CPI chief says no change in Sabarimala affidavit; irks Cong & BJP in poll-bound Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 22 (PTI) The CPI, the second largest partner in the ruling Left Democratic Front in Kerala, on Monday made it clear the Left government would continue with the 'same position' on the affidavit filed by it in the Supreme Court in connection with the Sabarimala women entry issue, triggering sharp reactions from the BJP and Congress.

On the other hand, the CPI(M) claimed that there was a deliberate attempt by someone to make Sabarimala a topic of discussion during the time of election.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in Kottayam that some people were trying to raise the Sabarimala issue again during the election time.

'No need to raise it now..let's think about other things after the final verdict,' he said, adding that his government had granted Rs 1,487 crore for improving the amenities of pilgrims at the hill temple.

While talking to a private channel, CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran said the government has already taken a stand in its original petition on the matter and 'it would be continued'.

It was clearly mentioned in the affidavit that it was not the government but a panel of experts and scholarsof 'Hindu dharm' which should take a final decision on the entry of young women at the hilltop temple, he said.

'The state government and the Travancore Devaswom Board (which manages the shrine) has taken a stand in the original petition regarding the matter.The same position will be continued like that,' Rajendran said.

It was not the government to take a final decision on the customs and traditions of the temple, the Left leader said.

'The government had said (in the affidavit) that a panel of scholars and experts, proficient in Hindu Dharm, should be set up and the final judgment should be pronounced after taking into account its opinion on the women's entry.

The government will continue this stand,' he said.

The Left leader's statementcomes at a time when the opposition parties are keen to know whether the LDF government will make any change in the present affidavit in the case, pending in the Supreme Court.

Lashing out at the CPI leader over his statement, BJP state president K Surendran said Rajendran's stand that there would not be any change in the Left government's affidavit, which backs women's entry in Sabarimala, would turn the holy land into a place of riot again.

'If the CPI(M) continues its move to destroy Sabarimala, the agitation will start again.We are ready to fight from the front again for devotees,' he said during an election campaign at Nariapuram.

He also said if the BJP-NDA government comes to power in the state, Sabarimala would be liberated from the clutches of politicians.

Criticising the CPI leader, senior Congress leader K Muraleedharan said the 'insincere' approach of the Marxist government towards Sabarimala has been exposed through Rajendran's statement.

'Kanam Rajendran says that the LDF government will not make any change in the existing affidavit.That means, the government is still sticking to its stand of allowing young women's entry in Sabarimala.They want devotees' vote but they are not ready to change their stand,' he said.

The government was giving all support to destroy the customs and traditions of the shrine, Muraleedharan, also the UDF candidate in Nemom, alleged.

Meanwhile, TDB president N Vasu said it was the government which has to take a decision on the affidavit.

'There has been no issue at Sabarimala for the last three years...festivals have been going on in a peaceful atmosphere. There has been no complaint of violation of any customs or traditions,' he said, adding the present controversies would only help destroy the peaceful atmosphere in Sabarimala.

The state had witnessed widespread violent protests led by a section of devotees and other right wing outfits against the state government decision to implement the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women of all ages into the hilltop shrine two years ago.PTI LGK BN BN