Representatives of the Pandalam palace on Wednesday criticised the rationale and obtuseness of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s comments against them.
At a public meeting on the previous day, Vijayan had ridiculed the palace and the Tantri (high priest) family for their ‘misplaced sense of ownership’ of the temple.
The Chief Minister had reiterated that the temple was the property of the Devaswom Board and no one else had a right to it. He dismissed the claims of ownership as frivolous, quoting the tripartite Covenant of 1949.
The Covenant was signed by the then Kings of Travancore and Cochin and VP Menon, who represented the Indian government.
This was just before the princely States joined the Indian Union and the State of Kerala was formed.
The Covenant had transferred administration of temples, its funds and properties to an independent body called the Devaswom Board.
The Travancore Devaswom Board was formed to manage and administer temples under the erstwhile kingdom.
The Chief Minister also took exception to the Tantri who threatened to shut down the temple during the monthly rituals under directions from the royal family if women of restricted age were allowed to enter the shrine.
The Pandalam palace said the temple belonged to the faithful and not the Devaswom Board.
“If the State government refrained from doing what it is expected to do — to maintain status quo — the erstwhile royal family will be forced to enforce it,” said representatives PG Sasikumara Varma and PN Narayana Varma.
The palace said, “The link between Sabarimala and the palace transcends time and space and does not come up for renewal every five years.”