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Home / India / On secret camera: BJP boast on Sabarimala

On secret camera: BJP boast on Sabarimala

Kerala BJP president talks about 'setting the agenda' for Sabarimala protests
Kandararu Rajeevaru, the tantri or the custodian of the rituals whose presence is required whenever the temple is opened, prays as Unnikrishnan Namboothiri, the melsanti or head priest, prepares to ring the bell as they open the sanctum sanctorum of the Sabarimala temple on Monday

K.M. Rakesh   |   Bangalore   |   Published 05.11.18, 08:29 PM

A video has captured Kerala BJP president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai boasting about “setting the agenda” for the Sabarimala protests, contrary to the party’s official claim that it merely supported a “spontaneous movement” by devotees.

Agitating mobs have prevented women of childbearing age from entering the shrine, often using violence, ever since the Supreme Court lifted the centuries-old age bar on September 28 and the state’s Left Front government decided to enforce the verdict.

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A secretly filmed video that Manorama TV beamed on Monday shows Pillai describing the protests as part of the BJP “agenda” and a “golden opportunity” for the party.

Addressing a meeting of the party youth wing in Kozhikode on Sunday, Pillai says the temple’s tantri (custodian of rituals) consulted him before issuing his notorious threat to shut the shrine if women aged 10 to 50 tried to enter it.

“As far as we are concerned, this is a golden opportunity. We will go ahead with our agenda in which everyone surrendered, leaving us against our rival government and its party,” he is heard saying.

The Nair Service Society, which represents the influential Nair community, has toed the Sangh parivar line on the issue and the Congress too has opposed the government decision, citing the devotees’ sentiments.

“The BJP should not respond to others’ agendas. We win when we set our own agenda and make the CPM and the Congress respond to it,” Pillai said.

The channel has not revealed the source of the mobile phone footage but clarified that the meeting was a closed-door one.

“When women were closing in on the temple (with police escort on October 18), the tantri called me. He was very disturbed whether shutting the temple would be in contempt of court,” Pillai is heard saying.

“I told him, ‘You are not alone and this contempt charge won’t stand’. If a case is booked, it would be first on us (the BJP), and the tens of thousands of people (devotees) will be with you. He then said he needed just this assurance.”

Pillai is heard bragging that with this single strategy the BJP had put the “police and the government in a fix”.

Two women have moved a contempt petition in the apex court against tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru, Pillai and two others, accusing them of preventing their entry into the shrine despite the court judgment.

At a news conference in Alappuzha on Monday, Pillai acknowledged making the comments but tried to dodge reporters’ queries.

“We are joint accused in a contempt petition; so as a lawyer who has handled criminal cases, I had to talk to his (priest’s) family,” he said.

Reminded that the questions related to a conversation before the tantri had issued the closure threat, Pillai seemed to suggest that the tantri had consulted him as a lawyer rather than a politician.

A video has captured Kerala BJP president P.S. Sreedharan Pillai boasting about “setting the agenda” for the Sabarimala protests, contrary to the party’s official claim that it merely supported a “spontaneous movement” by devotees.

Agitating mobs have prevented women of childbearing age from entering the shrine, often using violence, ever since the Supreme Court lifted the centuries-old age bar on September 28 and the state’s Left Front government decided to enforce the verdict.

A secretly filmed video that Manorama TV beamed on Monday shows Pillai describing the protests as part of the BJP “agenda” and a “golden opportunity” for the party.

Addressing a meeting of the party youth wing in Kozhikode on Sunday, Pillai says the temple’s tantri (custodian of rituals) consulted him before issuing his notorious threat to shut the shrine if women aged 10 to 50 tried to enter it.

“As far as we are concerned, this is a golden opportunity. We will go ahead with our agenda in which everyone surrendered, leaving us against our rival government and its party,” he is heard saying.

The Nair Service Society, which represents the influential Nair community, has toed the Sangh parivar line on the issue and the Congress too has opposed the government decision, citing the devotees’ sentiments.

“The BJP should not respond to others’ agendas. We win when we set our own agenda and make the CPM and the Congress respond to it,” Pillai said.

The channel has not revealed the source of the mobile phone footage but clarified that the meeting was a closed-door one.

“When women were closing in on the temple (with police escort on October 18), the tantri called me. He was very disturbed whether shutting the temple would be in contempt of court,” Pillai is heard saying.

“I told him, ‘You are not alone and this contempt charge won’t stand’. If a case is booked, it would be first on us (the BJP), and the tens of thousands of people (devotees) will be with you. He then said he needed just this assurance.”

Pillai is heard bragging that with this single strategy the BJP had put the “police and the government in a fix”.

Two women have moved a contempt petition in the apex court against tantri Kandararu Rajeevaru, Pillai and two others, accusing them of preventing their entry into the shrine despite the court judgment.

At a news conference in Alappuzha on Monday, Pillai acknowledged making the comments but tried to dodge reporters’ queries.

“We are joint accused in a contempt petition; so as a lawyer who has handled criminal cases, I had to talk to his (priest’s) family,” he said.

Reminded that the questions related to a conversation before the tantri had issued the closure threat, Pillai seemed to suggest that the tantri had consulted him as a lawyer rather than a politician.



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