U-turn on Sabarimala not under pressure from govt, says TDB

U-turn on Sabarimala not under pressure from govt, says TDB
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Thiruvananthapuram: The Travancore Devaswom Board on Wednesday said its decision in the Supreme Court to back women's entry into the Ayyappa shrine at Sabariamala was not due to any pressure following the LDF government's stand on the issue.

The board, which administers the Sabarimala temple, had taken a U-turn on Wednesday in the apex court by supporting the September 28 verdict, allowing women of all age groups to enter the shrine.

The Board had told a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, that it was high time that a particular class not be discriminated on the ground of "biological attributes".

Asked if the board's changed stance was out of pressure from the state government, TDB president A Padmakumar told reporters here that the temple body had not given a review petition, but sought time to implement the September 28 decision.

"The board's decision was not on the basis of the government stand. We were asked if the board accepts the September 28 decision of the court and we said we accept it, which is natural.

There should be no discrimination to anyone in offering prayers, that is the stand we have taken," he said.

Asked if the board's volte face was due to pressure from the LDF government, Padmakumar said "not at all".

"The Board does not have to take a decision under pressure following the government stand on the verdict", he said.

Meanwhile, Sasikumar Varma of the erstwhile Pandalam Royal family, associated with the Sabarimala temple, said the government and the board are not with the devotees.

"The Pandalam family's stand is that the customs and tradition of sabarimala temple should be protected," he said.

Opposition Congress-UDF leader in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala alleged that TDB's stand on the women's entry issue from the beginning was contrary to devotees' interests.

While Chennithala described the board as a "puppet" at the hands of the government, KPCC President Mullapally Ramachandran termed it as a 'scarecrow' for supporting the apex court verdict and said the LDF government was using the Sabarimala issue for political gains.

BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai said the LDF government had failed to highlight the pain of the devotees in the top court.

For this, the people of the state would give a befitting reply to the state government, he told reporters at kollam.

The Kerala government on Wednesday strongly opposed in the Supreme Court a batch of petitions, seeking a review of the verdict allowing the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala shrine, even as several organisations argued that the judgement be reconsidered.

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