Sabarimala issue: Kerala all-party meeting fails to reach consensus

Kerala government and Opposition stood pat to their positions

An all-party meeting held in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday to end the impasse over the Supreme Court verdict that granted unrestricted entry for women of menstrual age, in Sabarimala failed to reach a consensus since the State government and the Opposition stood pat to their stated positions.

Briefing reporters about the deliberations of the meeting, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters that the government was not for diluting the Supreme Court verdict, but clarified that the government had no prejudice on the issue. He made an observation that the government would hold discussions with the stakeholders of Sabarimala to explore various options, including granting permission for entry of women on certain specific days during the two-month-long festival season.

Since the rule of law should prevail in the State, the government is bound to implement the Supreme Court verdict and could not compromise on it, he said. The sole option left before the government was to provide entry for all women to the temple as directed by the Supreme Court, Mr. Vijayan added.

The United Democratic Front and the BJP shared the same view on the issue. The government was committed to protecting the interest of the faithful. Mr.Vijayan reiterated the view that constitutional values were not above fundamental rights. He also said that the Left Democratic Front governments that ruled the State in 1996, 2006 and at present had implemented the Kerala High Court order that barred entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years. It never went on appeal against the High Court verdict. If the Apex Court issued a new order, the government would implement it, he said.

Opposition’s stand

Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala, who waited till Mr.Vijayan made the concluding remarks, said that they boycotted the meeting as the government refused to heed to their suggestions to seek more time from the Apex Court to implement the verdict and also put in abeyance the implementation during the season till the Supreme Court heard the review petitions in an open court on January 22, 2019. He described the meeting as a farce and alleged that the government was prejudicial.

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