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Congress, NSS hit out at Vijayan on Sabarimala temple issue

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Thiruvananthapuram:  The vexed Sabarimala temple issue, which purportedly cost Kerala’s ruling CPI-M heavily in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, has again emerged as an issue ahead of the April 6 Assembly polls, with the Congress and the NSS, the powerful organisation of the Hindu Nair community, attacking Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for his “double standards”.

After the apex court in 2018 ruled that the temple should be open to women of all ages, lifting the bar on entry of women aged 10 to 50, the Vijayan government floated a renaissance movement, much to the anguish of the believers of Lord Ayyapa, the deity at the Sabarimala temple, and even provided security to two women activists women to pray at the temple.

The temple town then became a battle ground after believers in large members resisted attempts by the police to take women in the hitherto banned age group.

At that point of time, Vijayan and his party stressed that all what they did was to abide by the apex court verdict.

However, Vijayan, in his address to the media on Thursday, said that the matter of the Sabarimala temple is before the apex court and once the verdict comes, they will discuss with all concerned and then only decide what needs to be done.

Incidentally, state Devasom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who is contesting from his sitting seat at Kazahkootam, had after beginning his campaign, expressed regret in what happened at the temple town.

It was these statements that riled the NSS and its General Secretary Sukumaran Nair who on Thursday slammed Vijayan, saying that he is taking the people for a ride.

“Vijayan all along then said they are duty-bound to implement the verdict and now he says, when the new verdict comes, he will discuss with all concerned. He is taking people for a ride. Wish to know what is his real stand,” he said.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said if Vijayan has any shame left, he should immediately apologise to the people and say that their stand then was wrong.

“Surendran has by now apologised, but Vijayan is silent, while (CPI-M chief) Sitaram Yechury says their stand remains the same. Vijayan should first step down from the role of the renaissance leader. He is only taking the believers for a ride,” he said.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the CPI-M claimed they will win 19 out of the 20 seats, but they could manage only just one seat and the main reason that was attributed for their rout was the stand taken by them in the Sabarimala temple issue.

Meanwhile, Vijayan on Thursday said the Sabarimala temple issue is raked up every time when there is an election in Kerala.

With election campaigning picking up, both the Congress and the BJP have raised the Sabarimala issue and it appears that this will be intensified in the coming days.

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