Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Monday reiterated that his administration was duty-bound to follow the directions of the Supreme Court on the issue of women’s entry at Sabarimala and stated that it had submitted an affidavit promising to comply with whatever decision the top court took on the subject.
“How can we submit a review petition in the Supreme Court when we have already stated in our affidavit that we will follow whatever verdict the court gave? The government submitted an affidavit only because the court asked us to,” the CM said in an hour-long press conference called to explain the government’s stand on the issue.
The ruling of the constitution bench of the top court ending age-restrictions on the entry of women at Sabarimala has created massive churning, especially among Hindus in the state. Opposition parties including the Congress and the BJP as well as Hindu organisations have opposed the SC ruling, asking the government to submit a review petition.
“The government has been firm on its stand that social justice must be maintained at all costs. Any kind of discrimination against women must not be entertained,” the CM said.
In the same vein, he chastised parties like the BJP/RSS and the Congress for deviating from their earlier stand of welcoming the verdict. “The central unit of the Congress in a tweet on the day of the verdict had welcomed the Sabarimala ruling. Former chief minister Oommen Chandy and LoP Ramesh Chennithala had said the verdict was binding on everyone. It is surprising to see the change in the tone of the Leader of the Opposition. He should realise that such changes in his stance would erode the credibility of his post,” he said.
“Congress is increasingly turning to communalism. They want to prove that they are ahead of the RSS/BJP in the competition to be more communal. It is this approach which has led to the fall of the Congress and the rise of the BJP. This (approach) will have a huge impact on the Congress ideology,” Vijayan told reporters.
He also targeted the BJP for employing ‘double-standards’ on the issue of entry of women at religious institutions. He said while the BJP unit and the government in Maharashtra had followed the directions of the SC on the entry of women at Shani Shignapur temple and the Haji Ali Dargah, its unit in Kerala adopts a different approach when it comes to Sabarimala.
The chief minister spoke at length on the history of the social reform movements initiated by people like Sree Narayana Guru, Ayyankali and Chattambi Swami and the impact such movements have had on the state’s liberal and secular character.
The CM reminded that the state and its people had shown extraordinary unity during the devastating floods this monsoon, but it appears, he added, that there were systematic attempts from some quarters to break the peace and unity in Kerala.
Vijayan’s press conference came after both the tantri’s (priest) family and the Pandalam royal family shied away from attending a conciliatory meeting scheduled on Monday. The Nair Service Society (NSS), one of the petitioners in the case, has meanwhile submitted a review petition challenging the verdict on Sabarimala.