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Sabarimala campaign: BJP gives Kerala govt 24 hours to ‘solve issue’

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on October 15, 2018 Published on October 15, 2018

The ‘NamaJapa’ human chain at Kalpathy in Palakkad, organised by the Kerala Brahmana Sabha against the Supreme Court verdict on the entry of all women into the Sabarimala shrine   -  KK Mustafah

Threatens to step up campaign against entry of women into shrine

The NDA-BJP in Kerala warned the State government on Monday that the ‘Save Sabarimala’ campaign will be intensified if no acceptable solution to the simmering issue is found ‘during the next 24 hours.’

The government was put on notice by PS Sreedharan Pillai, the BJP’s State unit president who led a ‘Long March’ of devotees into Thiruvananthapuram after traversing the southern half of the State over four days.

BDJS to the fore

The campaign is significant as it catapulted once-estranged Thushar Vellappally, president of the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), to the helm of the State leadership of the NDA. Son of Ezhava supremo Vellappally Natesan, Thushar had publicly aired disappointment on how, soon after the 2014 elections, the BJP national leadership had reneged on the promise of allocating corporation/board posts to the BJDS.

But he joined the Sabarimala campaign even at the risk of speaking out of tune with his father, who had initially dismissed it as a show put up by upper-caste Hindus.

Thushar’s view prevailed after the campaign managed to get Lord Ayyappa devotees in their hordes, even forcing a rethink on the part of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, the BJDS’s ideological parent.

The senior Vellappally is the president of the Yogam, and Thushar is its Vice-President.

The Yogam activists are free to decide on which side to follow.

The Travancore Devaswom Board has extended an invitation to the tantris (high priests) of Sabarimala, as also representatives of the Pandalam palace, for a meeting on Tuesday. The temple opens for rituals in two days.

The State government wants to avoid a confrontation in the run-up to the annual festival that begins later, and with the 2019 general elections in proximity.

It is also obliged to implement the Supreme Court order — allowing women of all ages access to the Sabrimala shrine.

This is exactly why the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of devotees across the State by the NDA-BJP becomes important.

Some observers say that the BJP has peaked too early, but others say it is just in time since the issue can be kept alive as the temple opens for rituals.

Monday also saw CK Janu, an Adivasi leader who heads the Janadhipathya Rashtriya Sabha, walk out of the NDA, accusing it of mistreatment. The BJP, NDA and the BDJS brushed this aside, saying this was not related to the Sabarimala issue.

Published on October 15, 2018
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