Sabarimala row: CM Vijayan’s absence not affecting state in any way, says CPI(M)’s Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

Balakrishnan said there is nothing happening in the state that needs the CM's direct intervention & physical presence.

CPM Kerala state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan Friday defended Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s Gulf visit amid the simmering Sabarimala row.

“Right now, there is nothing happening the state the needs the CM’s direct intervention and physical presence. It is possible for him to run the government smoothly from wherever he is. So, his absence for three days, is not in anyway affecting the state (sic),” Balakrishnan was quoted as saying by ANI.

CM Vijayan left for a four-day trip to the Gulf nation the day the shrine opened its doors, first time after the Supreme Court’s September 28 verdict that allowed women of all ages to visit the temple. Earlier, women in the age group 10-50 were not allowed to enter the temple as the presiding deity Lord Ayyappa is considered a celibate.

Balakrishnan assured that the party abides by the Supreme Court order, even as the opposition Congress and BJP sided with the protesters, demanding a review petition of the order.

Slamming the Congress of changing colours for political gains, Balakrishnan said, “We want to abide by the Supreme Court’s order. Earlier, the Congress was in favour of entry of women of all age groups in #SabarimalaTemple but now they are protesting against it as we are in power.”

He accused the BJP of causing hindrance in the arrangements put in place by the state government to prevent any untoward incident in the light of the violent protests around the shrine which has continued for three days since the temple opened for the monthly puja on October 17. Agitating protesters and priests of the famed shrine prevented any woman of the erstwhile banned group from entering the temple.

“Following Supreme Court verdict, a lot of arrangements had to be put in place but the BJP is causing hindrance in putting those arrangements in place,” the ANI quoted Balakrishnan as saying.

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Earlier today, CPM General secretary Sitaram Yechury blamed the RSS, BJP’s ideological parent, for the protest, comparing the incident to Babri Masjid demolition.

“All the TV crews who went there which had women were roughed up, the pattern is very similar to the time of the Babri Masjid demolition. You have the heads of the volunteers wearing saffron bands, the same dress you found there then. Similar thing is being done here (Sabarimala) so it is an organised thing that the RSS is doing. RSS has lost the battle of not letting the gates of Sabarimala open, they even lost the battle that the temple shouldn’t open on time,” he told reporters.

On Thursday, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat Thursday said that “premise of the tradition that has been accepted by society and continuously followed for years together was not taken into consideration” in the Sabarimala case.

Read| Will Sabarimala rewrite the Kerala secular story?

Earlier in the day, the Congress and BJP also hit out at the Left government for allegedly extending support to bring women activists to Sabarimala temple, hurting the sentiments of devotees.

On Friday, two women, identified as a journalist from Hyderabad and a Kochi-based activist, trekked Sabarimala, but were blocked by protesters at Valiya Nadappandhal, the queue complex located a few metres away from the holy ‘pathinettam padi’ (the 18 sacred steps), leading to the sanctum sanctorum. Tension was defused after the women agreed to return as the state government made it clear it did not want to take them to the Sannidhanam, the temple complex, by using force against the protesting devotees, reported PTI.

The devotees had intensified the agitation at the shrine complex and nearby areas including the base camps, Nilakkal and Pamba, since the shrine was opened for the five-day monthly puja on October 17.

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