THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Amid high drama, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) began the interview for the post of melsanthi (head priest) at Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala. The interview began by noon following a row over the inclusion of Tantri Kandararu Maheswararu in the interview board. The personal interview of all eligible priests who have applied for the posts of melsanthi began five hours late at the TDB headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram.
The Devaswom Board and observer appointed for the supervision of the interview denied permission to Tantri Kandararu Maheswararu as he is a party to a criminal case being tried in the court. Though he was acquitted by the court in cases related to blackmailing by Shoba John, she had filed a review petition in which he was a party. Following which, he was not included in the interview board, said Travancore Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar.
However, he has reached the office of the TDB in the morning. Later, the interview began by noon after the High Court made it clear he was not to be made a party in the interview board and the committee constituted to hold the interview can go ahead with the interview, he said.
TDB has found a total of 86 applicants eligible for the interview for the post of melsanthi at the temple. The interview board will select 10 candidates after a personal interview for the draw of lots for selecting the new melsanthi. The interview is expected to take two more days as 86 candidates shortlisted for the interview after the Vigilance inquiry have to be interviewed.
The final selection will be held through a draw of lots to be held at Sannidhanam on the morning of the first day of the Malayalam month of Thulam — October 18.