Congress, BJP join Sabarimala protest by Lord Ayyappa devotees in Kerala's Pamba and Nilakkal

Pamba: As agitating devotees took to the streets in large numbers over the Sabarimala issue, the Opposition BJP and Congress on Wednesday joined their stir at Pamba and Nilakkal, the entry points to the hill shrine.

With the issue of women of all age groups being allowed into the Lord Ayyappa temple taking a political turn, the BJP and Congress have extended support to devotees who are protesting against the CPM-led LDF government's decision to implement the verdict and not file a review petition.

The base camps of Pamba and Nilakkal witnessed intensified protests as the Lord Ayyappa temple opens for the five-day monthly pooja this evening, for the first time after the landmark Supreme Court verdict.

 Congress, BJP join Sabarimala protest by Lord Ayyappa devotees in Keralas Pamba and Nilakkal

Protests against women's entry inside Sabarimala temple. Image producred by TK Devasia

The Left Front government termed the agitation as "politically motivated" and said it would be met politically.

The police evicted members of a tantri (head priest) family, including elderly women, and the Pandalam royals who were protesting in Pamba, reciting Ayyappa 'mantras'.

After their eviction, a group of BJP leaders began the 'namajapa' (prayer) meet at the same venue. BJP state general secretaries, K Surendran, MT Ramesh and Shobha Surendran, were among those who led the prayer meet. They alleged that the police removed members of the traditional tantri and royal families without any provocation.

Follow LIVE updates on the Sabarimala protests here

Kerala BJP president Sreedharan Pillai observed a fast at the district headquarters, Pathanamthitta, as part of the saffron party's second phase of agitation on the Sabarimala issue.

Thousands of party activists had marched to the state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on 15 October against the LDF government's decision to implement the court verdict disregarding sentiments of Sabarimala devotees.

State Congress working president K Sudhakaran led party workers in the protest at Nilakkal to express solidarity with believers.

State Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who held a review meeting at the Sannidhanam (temple complex) on the three-month-long Mandalam-Makaravilakku-festival beginning 17 November, said the Kerala government would face the agitation politically.

"The government is only implementing the court order," he told reporters at the Sannidhanam.

He also alleged that the BJP-RSS was trying to create tension in the state and destroy the peaceful atmosphere for "political gains".

"We know very well the agenda of RSS and BJP," he said, adding the LDF government had no intention to have any confrontation with the believers.

The minister also condemned the alleged attack on media personnel.

Vijayan on Tuesday had stated that there was an attempt to destroy the secular mind of people of Kerala in the name of the Sabarimala issue. He had also criticised the Congress and said the party had joined hands with the RSS and BJP in the agitation.

Updated Date: Oct 17, 2018 15:57:36 IST