Leaders of political parties in Kerala are pointing fingers at each other over the arrival of Right to Pray activist Trupti Desai and the Bhumata Brigade in Kerala in order to enter Sabarimala temple. Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran was quick to highlight Trupti’s connection to the Congress and BJP, while BJP leader PK Krishnadas told reporters that Trupti had arrived in the state on the invitation of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Kadakampally Surendran.
Trupti, along with the Bhumata Brigade, is presently stuck inside Cochin International Airport, where she arrived at 4.40 am on Friday morning. She has been unable to leave the airport due to a large crowd of protesters gathered outside.
Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, speaking to reporters at Nillakal said, “This morning, Trupti Desai arrived at Cochin Airport for Sabarimala darshan. Trupti Desai came on the strength of an SC ruling. Trupti Desai sent a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan [alerting him of her planned visit]. The Maharashtra CM also received a letter from Trupti asking for protection according to the SC verdict.”
He went on to discuss the politics he feels colours her attempt to enter Sabarimala temple. “Trupti Desai has created this commotion in arriving here. Congress’ Ramesh Chennithala should speak to her, as she lost an election on Congress’ ticket in Pune. If Ramesh Chennithala and [BJP State President] Sreedharan Pillai tell her to go back to Maharashtra, this problem will end. What is happening here, being detained at the airport is not suitable at all. Those who have the responsibility to tell her to go back, should do so.”
He continued, pointing out her previous political and ideological links to the BJP in other women’s temple entry issues she was involved in. “When the police are telling her to return, she is saying ‘I have come under the Supreme Court’s verdict, I have written a letter to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and Maharashtra Chief Minister. I carried out the legal fight to enter the Shani Temple in which women have not entered for 400 years, I am that woman. The very next day after I entered the Shani Temple, the BJP declaimed we have taken a woman into the temple into which women had not entered. So why is BJP creating this commotion here now?’ This is what she is asking. This is the reality.”
In response to these statements, when he was asked by a reporter if he felt the BJP was behind Trupti’s arrival in Kerala, the Devaswom Minister said, “I’m just commenting on Trupti’s politics. She is not a neutral party. She is a person who contested elections as a Congress candidate and lost. Trupti recently aligned her views with the BJP recently. What's her relationship with [Maharashtra Chief Minister] Fadnavis? Who doesn’t know all this?”
He went on to comment on BJP state President Sreedharan Pillai’s recent leaked audio tape, in which he had told BJP Yuva Morcha workers in a closed meeting that the Sabarimala unrest was a “golden opportunity” for the BJP in Kerala. Kadakampally said, “The BJP has no problems gathering a few thousands of people in the name of religion. We all know that what is behind the BJP’s protests is political: they want some few thousand votes in the upcoming elections. But we know true devotees have not fallen for this trap.”
However, when questioned by a reporter, he clarified that in making these statements, he does not feel that a political conspiracy is behind Trupti’s attempt to enter the visit Sabarimala.
Meanwhile, BJP leader K Surendran was adamant that women will not be allowed into the temple, stating, "We have taken a firm stance that they will not be allowed to enter. The government should understand the situation and should reach a consensus accordingly".
BJP leader PK Krishnadas, who was amongst the protesters gathered outside the Kochi airport, told reporters gathered there that Trupti Desai had come to Kerala under the protection of the CPI(M)-led Kerala government. “It is on the basis of an invitation from the government that Trupti Desai has arrived here. In truth, Trupti Desai has arrived in Kerala as the guest of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. She told media persons that she came having been assured [provisions for] her travel, food and stay. Pinarayi Vijayan invited her. Kadakampally Surendran invited her. We don’t know if [CPI(M) state secretary] Kodiyeri Balakrishnan invited her. Whoever invited her, they itself should return her to wherever she came.”
Krishnadas concluded his statements by saying that the BJP sees the protesters gathered at the airport as devotees, and that the devotees will have the support of the BJP.
Congress' K Sudhakaran, speaking to the media, said "It is wrong that she came, and it is wrong that she saw such huge protests and did not decide to leave. The BJP is playing games here by gathering protesters here." When told by an Asianet reporter that the BJP had also insisted that Trupti be sent back, Sudhakaran said, "Just because BJP has said this, doesn't mean Congress also can't."
Meanwhile, speaking to TNM about Trupti’s current status inside the airport, Aluva Rural SP Rahul R Nair said, “As of now the police haven't asked her to go back. She has been stuck at the airport since the private vehicles didn't agree to take her from the airport. The situation is under control now. But at the same time there is apprehension that the huge crowd would cause disturbance to the passengers. We are also working out on the options of what to do next.” He added that the protest has not at the present time affected the flight operations at the airport.