The Pinarayi-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala decided on Friday to cut down the tenure of the office bearers of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TBD) from its current three years to two years.
The ordinance will amend Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions (TCHRI) Act of 1950, which will also empower the state government in fixing honourarium to the board's employees. According to reports, the honorarium of the presidents has been fixed at ₹5,000 and that of members at ₹3,000.
The decision was taken at a special cabinet meeting, following which, the cabinet has forwarded the draft ordinance for Governor P Sathasivam's nod.
Government vs TBD
The Left government and the TBD has been at loggerheads for quite sometime now. The differences between the board's President Prayar Gopalakrishnan and the state's Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran are not a secret.
Once the Governor signs the ordinance amending the TCHRI Act, Prayar Gopalakrishnan would have to step down since he would complete his two-year tenure on Saturday.
Speaking to media, Prayar accused the state government of being vengeful.
"This move is part of the Left government's agenda. Now I understood that even if one works well, the government will take vengeance. It is unfair to cut down the tenure. One or two years is way too less for any committee to perform well. Three years tenure was satisfactory," Prayar said.
He also said that the timing of the government's decision was not appropriate, since it comes only days before the beginning of the Sabarimala pilgrimage season.
“All arrangements have been made for the Mandalam and Makaravilakku festivals. No graft charges have been raised against me and I am stepping down with satisfaction,” he told The Hindu.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala has reportedly written to Governor P Sathasivam, urging him not to give consent to the ordinance. Saying that the decision was politically motivated, Chennithala pointed out that there were no complaints against the present board. He also argued that the decision to cut down the tenure at this point will affect the preparations for the Sabarimala season.
BJP State President Kummanam Rajasekharan on the other hand, has accused the state government of trying to take control over devaswom boards.
Recently, controversy broke out following the Malabar Devaswom Board taking over Parthasarathy temple in Thrissur's Guruvayur. The decision for promulgating the ordinance coming only days after this controversy, Kummanam accused the government of trying to take control and has written a letter to the Governor asking him not to sign the ordinance.
Meanwhile, Rahul Easwar has said that he will challenge the government's decision in the High Court on Monday.
If NEWS is true ..of Kerala CPM Govt bringing ordinance to remove Pro Hindu Devasom President Prayar.. will challenge ordinance in High Court on Monday..— Rahul Easwar (@RahulEaswar) November 10, 2017