Thiruvananthapuram: BJP Kerala unit chief P S Sreedharan Pillai Thursday said the party would raise the Sabarimala issue over women's entry and the alleged harassment suffered by the Lord Ayyappa devotees during the campaign in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
If the law permits the Centre to intervene in the matter, the BJP would take all possible steps to bring a new legislation to protect the temple's customs and traditions, the leader said in a statement here.
"Each BJP candidate has the right to raise the issue of assault on Lord Ayyappa devotees in Sabarimala and the attempts to destroy their faith during the campaign in a peaceful manner," he said.
Pillai's statement came hours after his reported remarks that the BJP would not use Sabarimala row as a campaign issue in the Lok Sabha polls triggered a controversy.
A section of the media reported that his statement was contradictory to the stand taken by K Surendran, the BJP-NDA's candidate in Pathanamthitta (where the Sabarimala temple is located), who had made it clear that the Sabarimala row would be one of the major campaign issues.
"I have never said anywhere that Sabarimala issue would not be raised during our election campaigns. The NDA candidate in Pathanamthitta and the party cadre there have every right to raise the issue during campaigns in accordance with the law," he said.
"There is no need for the devotees and the Pandalam royal family (attached to the Sabarimala shrine) to be worried over the issue," he said.
Pandalam royal family member Sasikumar Varma Thursday told television channels that they would not campaign for the BJP as the Centre did not intervene favourably to protect the centuries-old traditions and customs of the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
Kerala had witnessed widespread protests from frenzied devotees and rightwing groups over the CPI(M)-led LDF government's decision to implement the September 28 Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the hilltop shrine.
Traditionally, women of menstruating age or in the age group of 10 to 50 were not allowed to enter the temple as Lord Ayyappa was a "Naishtika brahmachari" (perennial celibate).