THIRUVANANTHAPURAM — Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday lashed out at the BJP and right-wing outfits, accusing them of exploiting the Sabarimala issue for their "political gains" and trying to 'capture' and take control of the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
In hard-hitting remarks amid the continuing protests over the issue of entry of women in menstrual age into the shrine, he alleged the Sangh Parivar's agenda was to create trouble by sending "karsevaks" to take control of the temple and make the pilgrims the "scapegoats".
Addressing a press conference, he also defended the arrest of 69 people from the temple complex on Sunday night and slammed the Congress for opposing implementation of the Supreme Court order allowing women of all age groups to offer prayers at the hill-top shrine.
He alleged the RSS and Congress "have become one" on the Sabarimala issue.
His comments came on a day when BJP President Amit Shah slammed the LDF government's handling of the situation in Sabarimala as "disappointing" and accused it of treating pilgrims as "Gulag inmates" and making them spend nights next to "pig droppings".
Asserting that his party stands firmly with every Ayyappa devotee who holds the Sabarimala tradition close to his heart, Shah in a series of tweets said BJP would not let the LDF "crush people's faith with impunity".
Vijayan asserted that Sabarimala would not be allowed to be transformed into a "centre of violence" and his government "will not compromise" with those perpetrating violence in the temple complex.
He alleged Sangh Parivar was "exploiting Sabarimala in the name of faith" and trying to take control of Sabarimala temple.
"All protection would be given to the pilgrims visiting the shrine for darshan," Vijayan said.
Targeting the main opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front, he said the Congress' national leadership wanted the Supreme Court verdict to be implemented, but the state unit had a different take.
"Ramesh Chennithala (leader of the opposition in the state assembly) has changed his stance multiple times which ultimately helped the Sangh Parivar politics," he said.
Defending the police action on Sunday night arresting 69 devotees from 'Sannidhanam' (the main temple complex), the Chief Minister said "conscious efforts" were made by some people to stay back there even after the customary closing song "Harivarasanam" and despite prohibitory orders.
"Most of them have not come to the temple through the normal route but preferred the forest path evading checking.
Conscious efforts were made by some people to stay back at Sannidhanam even after 'Harivarasanam'," he said.
"Their specific plan is to gain full control of Sabarimala," Vijayan charged and named six Sangh Parivar office bearers whom he alleged posed as devotees to create problems at Sabarimala on Sunday night.
The Chief Minister also referred to a BJP circular through which, he said, it had planned to deploy its cadre in an organised manner at Sabarimala to ensure that no young women would enter the shrine on the strength of the 28 September verdict lifting the ban on women in 10-50 age group.
"As per the circular of the BJP, they would be sending the "karsevaks" with a hidden agenda to capture and take control of Sabarimala," Vijayan alleged.
He also pointed to statements reportedly made by BJP state chief PS Sreedharan Pillai, including that the Sabarimala issue was an "opportunity for the Sangh parivar" and the saffron party and their agitation was "not against women's entry" but against the Communist party.
"Pillai has made it clear earlier itself that Sabarimala issue was a good opportunity for the Sangh parivar," Vijayan alleged.
Alleging that the Sangh Parivar has a "doctorate in peddling fake news", he said it has unleashed "fake campaign" against the state maligning its image.