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Congress matches BJP, vows to restore Sabarimala entry ban

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala says if UPA comes to power, it will take Constitutional route to bring back ban on young women’s entry at Sabarimala

Published: 20th April 2019 05:06 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th April 2019 05:06 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  It’s no longer veiled references and cautious statements. In the last lap of the Lok Sabha poll campaigning, Sabarimala has indisputably become the main plank. The Congress and BJP have issued clear statements that they would reinstate the age bar on women seeking darshan at Sabarimala if voted to power.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, it was Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala’s turn on Friday to lure the “irked” believers by promising that the party would take Constitutional route to restore the ban on young women’s entry.

“I categorically state that if the Rahul Gandhi-led UPA Government comes to power at the Centre, we’ll enact a legislation to preserve the customs and traditions of the temple,” Chennithala said at a hurriedly- convened press briefing on Friday, within 24 hours of Modi’s promise of “Constitutional support” to protect devotees’ faith. Chennithala said the political interests of the BJP and CPM have worsened the issue.

Modi is shedding crocodile tears on the issue while he had every opportunity to enact a legislation and protect the temple’s customs. “The BJP viewed it as a golden opportunity for electoral gains. The CPM stood for lifting the age bar not because of progressive thinking but for weakening democratic forces,” he said. Chennithala said the Congress and UDF opted for Constitutional and legal options after the Supreme Court verdict came lifting the age bar.

‘We are for preserving Sabarimala’s customs’

T’Puram: “We convened a meeting of former presidents and members of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB). As decided by the meeting, former TDB president Prayar Gopalakrishnan was assigned to file a review petition which was submitted through eminent lawyer and Congress leader Manu Abhishek Singhvi,” said Chennithala. “While Modi and Pinarayi Vijayan took harsh steps hurting the believers, we stood for preserving the temple’s customs. The UDF legislators staged satyagraha at the Assembly for 11 days to revoke the prohibitory orders clamped at Sabarimala,” he added.

Lok Sabha polls:

Chennithala said the UDF will have a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha polls. “We’ll win all the 20 seats, thanks to the Rahul wave,” he said. Chennithala said the LDF government was misusing its power to make UDF candidate N K Premachandran fail in Kollam. The UDF campaigning is going well in all constituencies, including Thiruvananthapuram. Shashi Tharoor is the most popular candidate in Thiruvananthapuram constituency. On why Rahul will not speak against Kerala CPM leaders, he said: “We (state’s Congress leaders) are here to speak against Pinarayi and Kodiyeri. They need not be glorified with the help of Rahul.”

UDF & LDF CONCERNED Kochi: The women’s entry issue has grabbed the centre stage in the poll scenario. With just three days remaining for the polling day, concerns over a possible polarisation of voters have gripped the two major fronts.

PLAYING IT SAFE? Kochi: Though Sabarimala temple was opened on two occasions recently, there was neither police escorted darshan for young women nor any attempts by young women disguising as men.



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