The day of reopening of the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple is nearing and the faithful in Kerala egged on by both the state units BJP and Congress, have been escalating protests. Politically cornered, the LDF government has now planned an outreach program where, in three districts, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan will hold talks to explain the government's stand and the reasoning behind it.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta, on the 16th, 23rd and 24th of October, forums are being prepared for a dialogue between the Chief Minister and protesters where Pinarayi Vijayan is expected to put forth the dialectics behind the government’s decision to not appeal against SC verdict and make a pitch for gender justice.
The Kerala government has maintained that it will not appeal against the Supreme Court’s verdict and the Devaswom board too followed suit and announced that they will make arrangements to abide by and facilitate the implementation of SC orders.
When Republic asked the devotees protesting outside the Kerala Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday about the forum, most opined that they will boycott as the government, so far, has refused to respond positively to any of their demands and understanding their point of view is impertinent at this point of time.
Both the Congress, which is the principal opposition party in Kerala, and the BJP along with the affiliate groups have been confronting the LDF government and have turned the episode into an ‘Atheist government vs faith of the devotees’.
Private parties led by Rahul Eashwar’s Sabarimala Ayyappa Dharma Sena and Pandalam Palace have filed an appeal with the SC challenging the verdict on the grounds that the judgement is in violation of fundamental rights and is vitiated with errors. The petition further contends that courts cannot decide in matters of faith and that women devotees too are in favour of continuing tradition.
Meanwhile, protests are raging across Kerala with devotees calling entry of women, if it were to happen on the 16th, as an invasion and claim that roads including highways leading to Sabarimala will be blocked to not allow the ‘trespassers’ to enter the temple.
Speaking to Republic, Rahul Eashwar said that devotees will stop cars and check the Aadhar cards of women to verify their age before they can proceed and will block all possible entries, including through forests to ensure tradition is not broken.