Sabarimala protests: After BJP's rath yatra, now Congress set to launch padyatra from Kerala's Kasargod

After the Bharatiya Janata Party embarked on a six-day "Sabarimala Protection Rath Yatra" led by Kerala party president PS Sreedharan Pillai, the Congress is set to launch a "padyatra" (march) today to protest the Supreme Court verdict.

According to India Today, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee working president K Sudhakaran will hold the "Belief Protection Yatra" from Kasargod from today and end it in Mallapuram on 14 November. Congress will also  launch a series of yatras from Kasaragod, Alapuzha, Thiruvananthapuram, Thodupuzha and Palakkad to "protect the faith, fight communalism and explain to the people the politicisation" of the Sabarimala issue by the CPM and saffron parties, PTI reported. However, PTI reported that the padyatra will end on 15 November.

Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Legislative Assembly Ramesh Chennithala was quoted as saying by India Today: "The Congress is launching five yatras in Kerala not only on the issue of Sabarimala but other central and state issues. There will be three padyatras and two vehicle yatras. We will cover all constituencies. On the Sabarimala issue, we are with the devotees and their sentiments."

Speaking at the inaugural function of the 'Sabarimala Samrakshana Yatra', former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa sought the immediate intervention of the CPM0-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government to end tensions at the hill shrine.

The Kerala government should "apply its mind" and show seriousness to end the impasse at Sabarimala, he said. "We are not against the SC verdict. But sentiments of the people should be respected by one and all," he added, holding the ruling LDF and Congress-led Opposition UDF responsible for the present impasse.

Yeddyurappa flagged off the rath yatra jointly led by BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai and Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) president Tushar Vellapally, from Madhur Siddhi Vinayaka temple in Kasaragod. The rath yatra will conclude at Erumeli near Sabarimala on 13 November, when the Supreme Court is to consider the review petitions against its 28 September verdict permitting women of all age groups to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa shrine.

Earlier Yeddyurappa told ANI: "The Sabarimala Rath Yatra that will begin from Mattur today (Thursday) will reach Sabarimala on 30 November. Our culture has always given prominence to women and treated them with respect. It's all because of the Kerala government and its failure to handle the case before the Supreme Court that the situation has become tense."

"More than 90 percent of women are protesting against it (the Sabarimala verdict). It is high time the Kerala chief minister takes necessary action and approaches the Supreme Court to stop the entry of women inside the temple. Our party is not opposing the Supreme Court's verdict, but people's emotions should be respected,” the BJP leader added.

At a press conference in Kasargod later Thursday, Yeddyurappa said, "(Chief Minister) Pinayaryai Vijayan is well aware of the fact that the Kerala High Court, in the 1980s, refused to interfere with the tradition of banning the entry of women between the ages of 10 to 50 inside the temple. Then, the high court had also said that this tradition will not amount to a violation of women's fundamental rights."

Meanwhile, Kerala PCC Working president K Sudhakaran will take out a rally from Kasaragod this evening which will be inaugurated by senior Congress leader MM Hassan. Various Congress leaders will also be leading rallies from different districts in the coming days which will all culminate on 15 November at Pathanamthitta, where the Sabarimala shrine is located. During the yatra, Congress will inform the people how the Sabarimala issue was "politicised" by the ruling CPI(M) and BJP, KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran said.

BJP-RSS and various other Hindu outfits have been on the warpath against the Left government's decision to implement the apex court verdict. The main Opposition Congress has also made it clear that they were with devotees. The Ayyappa temple opened Monday for the second time in three weeks for a two-day "Sree Chitira Atta Thirunal" special puja amid unprecedented security over apprehension of protests by those opposing the Supreme Court order, allowing women of menstrual age.

A tense situation prevailed at the temple Tuesday as nearly 200 frenzied devotees tried to prevent a woman pilgrim, whom they suspected to be of menstrual age, from entering, prompting police to register cases against 200 persons.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Nov 08, 2018 17:35 PM

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