Kadakampally Surendran, the Kerala minister in charge of Devaswom affairs, called the move by Hindu groups to confine Trupti Desai to the Cochin Airport ‘barbaric’ and wondered if it was part of a conspiracy by the Sangh Parivar.
He said Desai is close to both the BJP and the Congress in Maharashtra, and that it is hypocritical for these parties to oppose her visit in Kerala.
He also said the Kerala government is trying hard to defuse the stand-off at the Cochin Airport, where more than 1,000 protesters have prevented the women’s rights activist from leaving the premises for the last seven hours.
“The police has suggested that she should return [to Maharashtra], considering the protests,” Surendran said.
“But she’s saying ‘I have an order from the Supreme Court. On the basis of this order, you have to enable me to have darshan. I have written to the PM, I have written to the CM. I have written to the CM of my state. I am someone who has won a legal battle to force women’s entry into a Shani temple where women were not allowed for 400 years. On the very next day, the BJP government took us women inside the Shani temple.”
Surendran said he suspected a conspiracy by the Sangh Parivar behind the whole Sabarimala episode.
“First you file a case in the Supreme Court for permitting young women to enter the temple, then you carry on the legal fight for 12 long years, and then, when the judgement is delivered, you incite people to hit the streets against the order… My doubt is whether this visit by Desai is also part of the same project,” he asked.
The Sabarimala controversy has proven to be an unexpected blessing to the saffron party, whose attempts to shake-off its stagnant image in the state has been unsuccessful for years. The agitation has reinvigorated party workers and helped it make inroads into non-upper caste Hindu sections in the state who have traditionally looked upon the party with suspicion.
Surendran also attacked the Congress Party, pointing to its links with the activist.
“She is someone who has unsuccessfully contested Pune Municipal elections as a Congress Party candidate. First Congress, and then the BJP… If both of these [parties] persuade her, she will go back. Instead, what we can see is an barbaric form of protest that is denying people’s right of movement,” Surendran said, adding that what is happening at the airport is not in keeping with the culture of the state.
Desai has been unable to carry on with her plan of entering the Sabarimala temple later today or early tomorrow morning, despite having arrived at the Cochin airport at 4:40 AM today.
Sabarimala is about 2.5 hours by car from the airport, but she and her co-agitators have not been able to get any taxi or vehicle agency to take her to Kottayam, a nearby city.
She also reportedly asked the Police if they can take her in their vehicle, but was refused. The ruling government is wary of the BJP’s social media campaign that alleges that Desai is an agent of the CPI-M and that her arrival is part of an elaborate plot by the party to desecrate Kerala’s holiest Hindu temple.