Kerala government left red-faced as ministers from other southern states skip meet on Sabarimala issues.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who was to have inaugurated the meeting, kept away, apparently following the absence of the ministers from the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Puducherry. All south state is not happy with the way the LDF government handled the Sabarimala issue. Nillakal police attack on the devotees made a bad mark on the left government in other southern states.
The gates of Kerala’s Sabarimala temple were opened this evening for the first time since the Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the shrine. However, no devotee woman from the “banned” age group – 10 to 50 years are tried to visit Lord Ayyappa’s temple yet.
In an embarrassment to the Kerala government, ministers from the other southern states did not attend a crucial meeting convened by it to discuss the preparations for the three-month-long pilgrimage season for all age women entry at Sabarimala beginning November 17.
The meeting, though held annually, assumed significance this time in view of the state witnessing frenzied protests by Ayyappa devotees over the CPI(M)-led LDF government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court verdict allowing any women of all ages to enter at the hill shrine in Sabarimala.
Instead, various officials from the states attended the meeting, where the Kerala government sought the cooperation of all in implementing the apex court verdict.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who was to have inaugurated the meeting, kept away, apparently following the absence of the ministers from the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Puducherry, from where lakhs of devotees throng the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
Some women working as activists are prevented from entering the temple earlier this month when it opened for the first time after the apex court order.
The Sabarimala Special Commissioner in a recent report submitted to the Kerala High Court has said protests by Lord Ayyappa devotees leading to possible stampede and casualty were expected during the annual pilgrim season.
Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who presided over the meeting, sought to downplay the absence of ministers from the other states and said it had nothing to do with the latest developments like police support for activists to enter in Sabarimala.
Describing as ‘baseless’ media reports that ministers from the state had kept away due to the women’s entry issue, he said they had ‘sufficient reasons’. The states were informed about the meeting at very short notice, he said.
Some reliable source said the south state ministers are not happy with the new 24 hour time scheduled implemented by the left government for the Ayyappa devotees. Other states Pilgrims are not happy with the current situation in Sabarimala and they showcased in their state authorities.
Opposition Congress and the BJP have extended support to the agitation of the devotees, who want to preserve the centuries-old traditions of the temple.
Meanwhile, the Nair Service Society (NSS), an outfit of the state’s influential Nair community, said it stood firmly with the devotees opposing entry of women in the restricted age group into the temple.
The outfit, which has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against its verdict, on Wednesday organized peaceful protests, chanting Ayyappa mantra, across the state to mark its Flag Day, a report from Kottayam said.
Private vehicles would not be allowed beyond Nilakkal, only KSRTC bus can go.
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