Thiruvananthapuram: As the state approaches the assembly polls, Sabarimala issue has again taken centre stage with the ruling and opposition fronts playing the religious card to woo devotees.
Even as former chief minister Oommen Chandy reiterated on Friday that Sabarimala was not a political weapon for UDF, the senior Congress leader wanted to put the rival CPM on the defensive following the confusion among the CPM top ranks on their stance on the issue.
Chandy played up the Sabarimala issue on Friday, a day after the NSS came out strongly against the CPM leadership, asking them to make their stand clear.
Chandy said UDF’s stand on the issue has remained the same since the beginning. He said customs and traditions have to be protected and if needed a new law has to be made for the same. “UDF is firm on protecting the faith and traditions of devotees and the affidavit filed by the UDF government in 2016 makes our stand clear,” he said.
“However, the LDF governments led by V S Achutanandan and Pinarayi Vijayan took a stand to allow entry of women in Sabarimala. UDF fought legally against this in the high court and Supreme Court. Had the LDF government endorsed the stand of the UDF government, the verdict would have been different,” he said. He also said though the UDF government had filed an affidavit protecting the rights of devotees just ahead of election in 2016, they never used it for political mileage. Chandy blamed devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran for bringing the issue to the fore again. “The issue resurfaced after the genuineness of the apology tendered by Surendran on the action of LDF government on Sabarimala issue was questioned,” he said.
On the CM’s statement that talks will be held with all before implementing the final verdict from the Supreme Court, Chandy said, it lacked sincerity. “When Pinarayi says this, he is keeping mum on the affidavit. If he is sincere, he should speak about the status of the affidavit as well,” he said.
Chandy also listed out the major developments in Sabarimala during the UDF regime. “The UDF government could acquire around 12.67 hectares of forest area, which was part of Periyar Tiger Reserve, for widening the road from Pamba to Sannidhanam. Another 110 hectares of forest land was acquired for the development of base camp at Nilackal too,” he added.