Sabarimala temple entry row: At all-party meet, Pinarayi Vijayan says SC order will be implemented, Opposition walks outs

The all-party meeting called by Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday turned out to be a damp squib with the Opposition staging a walkout. The meeting that had been called to discuss the Sabarimala temple row in light of the Supreme Court's decision to not put a stay on its 28 September order allowing women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayyappa shrine, saw Vijayan put forth a few suggestions while remaining firm on his decision to implement the apex court's order.

File image of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Getty Images

File image of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Getty Images

Later, while addressing the media after the inconclusive meeting, Vijayan said that the Sabarimala had faced considerable damage post the Kerala floods and his government's only aim is to take it to greater heights. Talking about the Supreme Court verdict on the Sabarimala temple entry row, Vijayan said that that "the Supreme Court clearly says that the 28 September verdict stands. It means that the entry of women should be allowed. The government cannot take any stand against this verdict. We respect the feelings of the devotees. We are bound to implement the court verdict."

"We don’t intend to dilute the ruling, we don’t want violence at Sabarimala either," Vijayan said explaining the 'law-abiding' state government's dilemma.

However, even as the Kerala government reiterated that it will abide by the Supreme Court order and not dilute its stand on the Sabarimala issue, Vijayan proposed that certain arrangements could be made — like fixing of designated days — to let women in the menstruating age bracket enter the shrine. The suggestion, however, did not go down well with the Congress-led UDF and the BJP, who walked out of the all-party meeting, The Indian Express reported.

During the meeting, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said the government was not ready for a compromise and was stubborn. Chennithala then called the meeting a drama and walked out of it, CNN-News18 reported. Later, while talking to the reporters, Vijayan mocked Chennithala, saying he “walked out” after the meeting was over.

The Supreme Court, however, had iterated that it was not putting a stay on the decision and that women will be allowed to enter the temple when it opens tomorrow. The Congress and the BJP — the Opposition parties in the state — had welcomed the apex court’s decision to hear review petitions. A total of 48 review petitions will be taken up by the apex court on 22 January.

The Kerala government on Tuesday convened an all-party meeting on 15 November to discuss various issues relating to the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, which witnessed widespread protests following the Supreme Court decision to permit entry of women of all ages into the shrine.

The decision to call the meeting comes on a day when the apex court refused to stay its 28 September verdict, lifting the centuries-old ban on girls and women in the 10-50 age group from entering the shrine and decided to hear a batch of review petitions in open court on 22 January. The two-month-long annual 'Mandala Makkaravillakku' season will start on 17 November and the meeting will also take stock of the arrangements made for devotees.

The temple had witnessed a string of protests from devotees when it opened for monthly pujas for five days in October and for two days in November. Over 3,700 persons have been arrested so far and 546 cases registered against various people for violence during protests across the state after the top court permitted women of all ages to pray at the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala. Over 500 young women registered for darshan in the online queue website of Kerala Police last week.

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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2018 15:29:53 IST

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