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May 22, 2019
Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 15 (IANS) An all-party meeting called by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday to discuss the upcoming Sabarimala pilgrimage season after the Supreme Court declined to stay its order allowing all women to pray at the temple ended with the Congress-led UDF and the BJP walking out.
The opposition then accused Vijayan of sticking to his original stand that the state government would abide by the apex court directive.
The all-party meeting was called soon after the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay its September 28 verdict which allowed all females, including those in the hitherto banned age group of 10-50, to pray at the temple.
The meeting ended after when the United Democratic Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders announced that they have no other option but to walk out when Vijayan insisted that his government has to abide by the apex court ruling.
Vijayan stood his ground both in his opening and closing remarks that the law of the land is above faith.
“The state government is not at all prejudiced. The Supreme Court on two occasions has made its point very clear. Hence the state government has to abide by the verdict,” said Vijayan, adding the government had no other option.
Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala told the media that the meeting was a washout.
“This was a golden opportunity for the Kerala government to see things in perspective as the temple opens tomorrow (Friday). But Vijayan was adamant that the temple tradition will have to be breached,” he said.
“We just cannot agree to anything that affects the emotion of the Sabarimala devotees. So we felt there was no point in continuing with the meeting,” he said.
State BJP President P.S. Sreedharan Pillai the meeting was a waste of time.
“The meeting was just dramatics. Its script was done at the CPI-M headquarters. The attitude of the state government is now clear. It is to thrash the devotees who come for the pilgrimage. We will continue with our protests,” said Pillai.
A fresh two-month festival season at Sabarimala starts on Friday at 5 p.m. It ends on January 20.
Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra reached the temple town on Thursday morning and is overseeing the security arrangements. Around 5,000 police officials will be posted in and around the town.
According to the temple authorities, more than 800 women in the banned age group have already registered in the virtual Q online system and have taken their time for visiting the temple.