Kerala Congress leaders to hold day-long fast against Sabarimala verdict in Pathanamthitta; party in Delhi says SC order final
The Kerala unit of the Congress on Thursday stated that the party will hold a day-long fast in Pathanamthitta on Friday to protect the to protect the custom and tradition at the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple after the Supreme Court verdict that permits women of all ages to enter the temple.
The Kerala unit of the Congress on Thursday stated that the party will hold a day-long fast in Pathanamthitta on Friday to protect the custom and tradition at the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple. The party announced the decision following devotees protests against a Supreme Court verdict last week permitting women of all ages to enter the temple.
The Congress made it clear on Thursday that they were with the faithful. Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala on Thursday told reporters after a meeting with former presidents and members of Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the temple, that the party was with the Hindu faithful and would support their cause.
Chennithala said the day-long fast would be the beginning of the Congress agitation, stating that he too would take part in it, reported The Hindu.
According to a New Indian Express report, Chennithala said that he will also hold discussions with former presidents of Travancore, Cochin and Malabar Devaswom boards to decide the future course of action on the Supreme Court verdict.
The Kerala Congress' call for protest has come even though the Congress welcomed the Supreme Court verdict at the national level. However, the Congress in Delhi on Wednesday had denied there was any contradiction in the party's stand at the national and the state level on the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women of all age groups into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
The party said there cannot be any discrimination on the ground of gender as per India's Constitution. It said the Kerala unit of the Congress was only expressing the sentiments of the people of Kerala by demanding a review of the apex court's verdict. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the verdict was final and binding.
"There can be no discrimination on the ground of gender or sex as per Indian Constitution. Men and women are equal and there can be no two opinions on the issue. The judgment of the Supreme Court is final and binding on everyone," he said.
Backing the Kerala unit, Surjewala said the unit was expressing its views freely as the Congress leadership does not stifle opinions.
"If the state unit feels, considering the local sensitivities in a particular fashion, can we say their right of expression of opinion has been taken away," he told reporters.
He said the Kerala unit was well "within its rights" to demand a review of the judgment. "It is not illegal and it is again for the Supreme Court to reiterate or to reconsider. So, I don't think there is any contradiction of stands there," he said.
On Wednesday, the Kerala government rejected the opposition parties' demand to file a review petition in the apex court against the Supreme Court order and said said that the state will ensure facilities and protection to women devotees visiting Sabarimala.
Sabarimala is a prominent Hindu temple in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. It attracts millions of pilgrims every year. The hill-top ancient temple of Lord Ayyappa remains open only for a little over four months in a year and the approach is through a forested area that involves an arduous five-kilometre trek from the Pampa river base camp.
On 28 October, a five-judge constitution bench, headed by then Chief Justice Dipak Misra, lifted the ban on entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine. The shrine's head priest Tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru had said the verdict was "disappointing", but the management accepted it.
With inputs from PTI
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