BJP, Congress begin fast over Sabarimala issue

BJP, Congress begin fast over Sabarimala issue

Opposition disrupts House, three UDF members fast outside assembly, BJP begins relay fast in Kerala over Sabarimala issue.

The Kerala government moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking the transfer of a clutch of petitions pending before the state high court pertaining to the Sabarimala issue to the top court. The move by the CPM-led Left Democratic Front government comes in the wake of flak it faced from the high court over the security restrictions imposed by it at the temple.

The state had put in place the curbs, including prohibitory orders in the shrine and its immediate vicinity. This was challenged before the Kerala high court. The court on November 27 set up a three-member body comprising two of its former judges and a sitting DGP-rank officer for “overall supervision” in Sabarimala.

The state’s transfer plea said the petitions before the HC were “attempts to prevent the state from implementing the judgement” of the SC that lifted the decades-old ban on entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 years-old into hill shrine. It wants the top court to hear the petitions along with the review pleas that will be heard in January.

Meanwhile, the Kerala assembly was disrupted for the fourth day on Monday over Sabarimala even as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s central team, ton a two-day tour of the state claimed there were serious human rights violations and that the state government is victimising its (the BJP’s) workers on the issue.

With both the Congress-led UDF and the BJP deciding to intensify their agitation over the Sabarimala issue, the state capital witnessed two competing protests– three opposition UDF law-makers began a fast outside the assembly and BJP general secretary A N Radhakrishnan started an indefinite fast before the state secretariat.

The state has been witnessing a series of protests since the Supreme Court’s September 28 verdict allowing women of all ages to worship at Sabarimala. With the shrine opening for the annual pilgrimage on November 17, the state government imposed several restrictions at the hilltop and base camps to tackle protestors and deployed more than 10,000 policemen. The state has already witnessed two bandhs over the issue.

“The state government is fully responsible for the situation. Pilgrims are treated like criminals and party leaders are being hounded for chanting hymns. General secretary K Surendran has been in jail for 17 days and he is tossed from one jail to another,” said Saroj Pande, the BJP’s general secretary and head of the party’s team. She asked the government to withdraw prohibitory orders imposed in Sabarimala and its base camps. The team also called on Surendran and submitted a memorandum to governor P Sathasivam.

Meanwhile, the BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh denied reports that it has sought that Mizoram governor Kummanam Rajasekharan rejoin active politics in the state.The denial came on the back of speculation that Rajasekharan, one of the tallest BJP leaders in Kerala before he became governor, could enter active politics again. Several in the BJP are unhappy with state party chief P S Sreedharan Pillai’s “sophisticated approach towards the burning issue” a BJP member said on condition of anonymity.