Kerala Assembly disrupted over Sabarimala

Thiruvananthapuram: With the Kerala government extending prohibitory orders in Sabarimala until Wednesday, the Congress-led UDF on Monday disrupted Assembly proceedings for the sixth consecutive day.

While Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers took to the streets across the state, the party has called for a Thiruvananthapuram shutdown on Tuesday to protest so-called “police high-handedness”.

Both the Congress and the BJP have been protesting against the Kerala government as it has been extending the prohibitory orders in the temple town ever since the Lord Ayyappa shrine opened on November 16.

The protests by three UDF legislators in the foyer of the House entered the eighth day on Monday.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala told the media in the Assembly they came in with a lot of expectation on Monday after Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan called them for a meeting.

“We thought we would get good news that the government has decided to lift the prohibitory orders in Sabarimala. But we were told that it was not ready for it. We want the prohibitory orders to go as it will send a message across the country that the temple town is peaceful,” he said.

“It has been 23 days since the festival season began and till now only 8.5 million pilgrims have come. Had things been peaceful, the number of pilgrims arriving would have increased like any season in the past.”

The average number of pilgrims who normally arrive in the temple town over the past seasons was at least 1 lakh a day.

BJP General Secretary A.N. Radhakrishnan’s indefinite fast in front of the state Secretariat entered the eighth day on Monday.

Union IT Minister K.J. Alphonse, after visiting Radhakrishnan, urged the Kerala government to work in a democratic manner.

“We live in a democratic country and those in power should stick to democratic traditions when dealing with issues,” said Alphonse.

The Kerala government has promised to implement the apex court’s verdict that struck down a hitherto tradition of not allowing girls and women within 10-50 years from visiting the temple.