Under pressure from devotees, Kerala government goes slow on its resolve
The Kerala government seems to buckle under pressure from Lord Ayyappa devotees who converged at 200 centres along the highways and state highways bringing traffic across the state to a grinding halt. In a climb-down from his earlier position, the Tranvancore Devaswom Board chief A Padmakumar said the Board won’t be making any additional facilities for women coming to the shrine. Responding to the Board chief’s statement, Devaswom minister Kadakampalli Surendran said the government would go by Padmakumar’s stance.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party state unit on Wednesday launched a ‘long march’ from Pandalam, the birthplace of Lord Ayyappa, to Thiruvananthapuram to mount pressure on the state government to bring a law against entry of fertile women into the hill shrine.
In about 200 centres more than two lakh devotees are estimated to have participated with a majority being women. They congregated at specified points and marched to the centres chanting Ayyappabhajans and devotional songs. Boys were seen dancing. They continued chanting and singing even while blocking the roads. They stuck on to non-violence despite provocations from the police at several places. Today’s agitation was planned and manned by RSS and RSS-inspired organizations. It was the result of the deliberations and decisions of the Sangh biattak held in Kochi on October 8.
The same day BJP state president Adv. P.S. Sreedharan Pillai kicked off NDA’s Long March from Pandalam, the seat of kingdom, significant in the legend of Ayyppa, to secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram. Adv. Pillai leads the Mach. The opening ceremony was attended by more than 10,000 people and they marched more than 16 kilometres to reach Adoor, Pathanamthitta district, the last point of the first day. Tamil Nadu BJP president Dr. Tamizhisai Soundararaj, BDJS chief Tushar Vellappalli, Kerala Congress leader and former union minister P.C. Thomas, V. Muraleedharan MP, Renu Suresh, Shobha Surendran and senior state leaders of BJP led the March along with Sreedharan Pillai. Even though SNDP general secretary Vellappalli Nateshan disagreed with the agitation, his son and Vice President of SNDP Tushar Vellappalli’s participation is an indication of SNDP’s stand.
Addressing the public meeting Sreedharan Pillai said, Long March is the part of the fight to safeguard the faith. Tushar said, it is a dharmik battle.
Another spectacular programme took place in the state was the rally before the secretariat in the capital city. It was organized by Nair Service Society (NSS). The participants came from 175 Karayogams (local units) under a single taluk union of the organization. Most of them were women.
The state wide programme has given a strong boost to the ongoing agitation demanding the revision petition before the supreme court by the state government against its verdict allowing young women to enter Sabarimala. It has demoralized the Hindu rank and file of CPM a lot. Common men are also convinced that the Hindu bodies’ steps are for ensuring natural justice for them.
Photo caption: Kerala BJP chief Adv Sreedharan Pillai leading a ‘long march’ to Thiruvananthapuram to protect traditions of Sabarimala.