With the Supreme Court set to hear a clutch of review petitions Tuesday against its Sabarimala verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the temple in Kerala, the state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told The Indian Express that his government’s efforts to implement the order may have “alienated” a “section of the faithful”.
Responding to a question about the political and social impact of the violent protests led by Hindu organisations against the verdict and the state’s attempts to implement it, Vijayan said: “A section of the faithful may have been alienated. However, that alienation is only temporary, I believe… The government is left with no other option but to implement the Supreme Court order.”
On Tuesday, a batch of 48 review petitions will be taken up in-chamber by a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
Three separate petitions asking for directions not to implement the verdict, and seeking a review, are slated to come up for hearing in the open court before a bench comprising CJI Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph.
Meanwhile, days after stating that his government will “fight against social evils” at the cost of losing a few votes or seats, Vijayan said “attempts being made by RSS-BJP-led forces to create communal polarisation” in the state were aimed at “destroying the secular fabric”.
“The secular mind of Kerala was formed out of a long process of reforms and renaissance. The Sangh Parivar had been trying to destroy this peaceful environment for a long time. Sabarimala is yet another chance for them,” Vijayan said.
With the temple opening for a two-month-long annual festival on November 17, sources said that the CPM-led state government is planning to hold an all-party meeting Wednesday to discuss various aspects of the issue.
However, BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai said he has “not yet received a call from the government” for the meeting. “If the meeting is being held with a good intention, we will attend,” he said. The BJP and various Hindu organisations spearheading the protests are also conducting a rath yatra that is slated to reach the temple’s base point Tuesday.
Speaking to The Indian Express, A Padmakumar, president of the Travancore Devaswom Board which manages over 1,000 temples including Sabarimala, said they will brief the apex court Tuesday about the “real situation on the ground”, and “how upsetting it has been for true believers”. “It is a fact. We will be reporting their sentiments, too, before the court,” he said.
The Supreme Court verdict of September 28 had triggered large-scale protests in Kerala where various groups have opposed the move to allow women between the ages of 10 and 50 inside the temple, citing a tradition that bars women of menstruating age from the shrine.
Last month, agitators disguised as pilgrims stopped several young women from entering the temple despite heavy security. Subsequently, the police arrested at least 3,700 people in various cases related to the protests. On November 5, the shrine opened for two days with protesters on guard to ensure that the age bar on women remained in place.