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Sabarimala row: Pinarayi Vijayan hits back at Amit Shah

The Kerala chief minister accused the BJP of making pilgrims 'scapegoats' for their 'political gains'

By PTI in Thiruvananthapuram
  • Published 21.11.18, 2:41 PM
  • Updated 21.11.18, 2:41 PM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Pinarayi Vijayan alleged that the BJP and right-wing outfits were trying to "capture" the hilltop shrine. The Telegraph file picture

The political war of words over Sabarimala continued on Wednesday as Kerala chief minister responded to BJP leader Amit Shah's comment that the state government was treating pilgrims like "Gulag inmates'.

Shah has slammed the CPI(M)-led government's handling of the situation at the shrine and accused it of making pilgrims spend nights next to "pig droppings".

Gulag was a system of forced labour camps established during Joseph Stalin's rule in the Soviet Union.

Vijayan accused the BJP and right-wing outfits of exploiting the Sabarimala issue for their "political gains" and trying to "capture" the hilltop shrine. He alleged that the Sangh parivar's agenda was to create trouble by sending "kar sevaks" to take control of the temple and make the pilgrims "scapegoats".

Addressing a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram, Vijayan also defended the arrest of 69 people from the temple complex on Sunday night and slammed the Congress for opposing implementation of the Supreme Court order.

He alleged that the RSS and Congress "have become one" on the Sabarimala issue.

Vijayan asserted that Sabarimala would not be allowed to be transformed into a "centre of violence" and his government "will not compromise" with those perpetrating violence in the temple complex.

He alleged that Sangh was "exploiting Sabarimala in the name of faith" and trying to take control of the temple.

"All protection will be given to the pilgrims visiting the shrine for darshan," Vijayan said.

Targeting the main Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front, he said the Congress's national leadership wanted the Supreme Court verdict to be implemented, but the state unit had a different take.

"Ramesh Chennithala (leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly) has changed his stance multiple times, which ultimately helped the Sangh parivar politics," he said.

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Defending the police action on Sunday night arresting 69 devotees from 'Sannidhanam' (the main temple complex), the chief minister said "conscious efforts" were made by some people to stay back there even after the customary closing song Harivarasanam and despite prohibitory orders.

"Most of them have not come to the temple through the normal route but preferred the forest path evading checking.

"Conscious efforts were made by some people to stay back at Sannidhanam even after 'Harivarasanam'," he said.

"Their specific plan is to gain full control of Sabarimala," Vijayan charged and named six Sangh Parivar office bearers whom he alleged posed as devotees to create problems at Sabarimala on Sunday night.

The Chief Minister also referred to a BJP circular through which, he said, it had planned to deploy its cadre in an organised manner at Sabarimala to ensure that no young women would enter the shrine on the strength of the September 28 court verdict.

"As per the circular of the BJP, they would be sending the "karsevaks" with a hidden agenda to capture and take control of Sabarimala," Vijayan alleged.

He also pointed to statements reportedly made by BJP state chief P S Sreedharan Pillai, including that the Sabarimala issue was an "opportunity for the Sangh parivar" and the saffron party and their agitation was "not against women's entry" but against the Communist party.

"Pillai has made it clear earlier itself that Sabairmala issue was a good opportunity for the Sangh parivar," Vijayan alleged.