Ahead of Kerala State Assembly polls, the Congress-led United Democratic Front said on Saturday that the UDF will bring in a law to protect the customs of the Sabarimala temple if they are voted to power. Earlier, there were reports that the issue of women’s entry into Sabarimala will be the trump card for the UDF in upcoming polls.
In the 'draft law' released by senior Congress leader and MLA Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, it is mentioned that a violation of Sabarimala temple rituals can attract imprisonment up to two years.
"We will enact the law if we come to power. Under this proposed law, a ban on unauthorised entry into Sabarimala will be ensured in consultation with the tantri (priest), and violation of customs or rituals can attract imprisonment of up to two years," Radhakrishnan told reporters at Kottayam.
Congress has been criticising the LDF (Left Democratic Front) for ‘immediately’ implementing Supreme Court verdict of September 2018, allowing women of all age groups to enter the Lord Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala. The opposition party had alleged that the decision had ‘created wounds in the public’.
The southern state had witnessed protests by the right-wing and BJP workers against allowing women between the ages of 10 and 50 years into the shrine. Many review petitions are pending in the apex court and a Constitution bench has been set up to hear the same.
Responding to the UDF’s draft law, CPI(M)’s state secretary in-charge A Vijayaraghavan claimed the UDF was ‘fooling’ the people, as it was not possible to formulate a law in a matter that is under the consideration of the Supreme Court.
"The UDF announcement that a new law will be formulated against the women's entry into Sabarimala is just to fool the people of the state. First of all, the UDF is not going to come back to power. Secondly, it's not possible to make a law in a matter that is under the consideration of a larger bench of the Supreme Court. There is no legal authority to do so," Vijayaraghavan said.
The ‘draft law’ proposed by the UDF contains entry restrictions with the permission of the temple tantri (priest).
Vijayaraghavan said the state government will have to act according to the decision of the Supreme Court.
On Friday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said the UDF was raking up the Sabarimala issue because of the coming Assembly elections. Even the BJP leadership in Kerala has stated that the Congress draft law has been formed with an eye on the elections and is political.