Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran on Tuesday asked the BJP, which has welcomed the recent Supreme Court order on Ayodhya, to also respect the apex court verdict on Sabarimala permitting women of all ages to pray at the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
Surendran, who was replying to a question posed by the lone BJP legislator O Rajagopal, also asked the saffron party not to encourage "goons and anti-socials" to go to Sabarimala. Rajagopal had sought a reply from the minister on the arrangements made at the hilltop shrine ahead of the annual pilgrimage season.
The BJP member alleged that the number of devotees to the shrine came down last year and wondered why the Left government supported the entry of "atheist, Left activists" and others into the temple.
Countering it, Surendran said, "Please don't encourage anti-socials and goons to go to Sabarimala like last time", an apparent reference to violence during the protest against entry of young women.
"Society expects more from a personality like you (Rajagopal). Now, the Ayodhya case verdict has come, your party has welcomed it with open arms. Hope the same attitude will be there with respect to the Sabarimala issue," Surendran said.
The minister said facilities have been arranged for keeping the sacred offerings of around 6,500 devotees while a total of 1,161 toilets, 160 bathrooms and 150 urinals had been set up. "Five emergency medical centres have also been readied. Three incinerators and 600 waste bins are also there," he told the House.
The shrine had witnessed protests by devotees and right outfits against the LDF government's decision to implement the Supreme Court verdict in 2018 allowing all women, including those in the menstruating age, to offer prayers at the hill shrine.
The court had lifted the traditional ban on women in the 10-50 age group from entering the temple.