IN A setback to the Kerala government’s efforts to work out a consensus on implementing the Supreme Court’s order to allow women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple, the thantri (priest) and erstwhile royal family of Pandalam on Sunday pulled out of the proposed discussions with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
“We have moved a review petition in the Supreme Court against the earlier verdict. We will decide on the future course of action only after knowing the outcome of the review petition. Otherwise, the discussion with the government does not make any sense,’’ said Sabarimala thantri Kandararu Mohanaru.
He said the decision was taken after consulting the leadership of the Nair Service Society, a prominent outfit of the upper caste Nair community.
He also took strong exception to the Travancore Devaswom Board’s decision to deploy women employees and policewomen to manage the women devotees at the monthly puja which is set to be held later this month.
Meanwhile, R R Varma, representative of the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, said the family wanted to protect the age-old traditions at the temple and was not interested in a discussion aimed at reaching a consensus on implementing the SC’s order.
“Let the government make the Devaswom Board move a review petition against the Supreme Court’s order. Why does the government want to hold a discussion with us for implementing a court order. Let the Devaswom Board move a review petition or the government should ask the board to do so,’’ he said.
Following the rising protests against the court’s verdict, the CPI(M) had directed its government to seek consensus on the issue before implementing the order. The party had urged the government to hold discussions with the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, which has a strong say in the temple’s rituals and traditions, and the priest of the temple. Accordingly, the chief minister was slated to meet both the stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the protests continued on Sunday as devotees, including many women, organised marches in parts of the state. The BJP observed a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Pathanamthitta district to protest against the police action on youth activists who earlier marched to the house of Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar.
State BJP president P S Sreedharan Pillai said the party would not backtrack from its decision to protect the faith, even at the cost of a bloodbath. “There is a bid to destroy Sabarimala, a pilgrim centre which is the hope of the faithful,” he said, while addressing protesters on Sunday.