A day after Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan slammed the Pandalam royal family for claiming rights and powers over the Lord Ayyappa shrine, the latter hit back on Wednesday, saying the family has carried out what it is entitled to.
Vijayan has said the Sabarimala temple is the property of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and that none else has any rights over it. He said on Tuesday that according to the 1949 covenant, the Sabarimala temple ownership was handed over to the TDB after the royal family had a serious financial crisis.
But the spokesperson for the family, Sreekumar Varma, told the media that the TDB has only administrative control over the temple.
"The real owners of the temple are the devotees and the TDB has only administrative control. The relation that the family has with the Sabarimala temple does not change every five years," said Varma, obliquely criticising Vijayan's remarks.
Varma's statement was meant to emphasise that whenever the Left government comes to power – with opposition UDF and LDF taking turns to rule the state – it takes a position contrary to the Congress-led UDF's, which has maintained that it's the thantri and the Pandalam royal family whose views matter about Sabarimala.
"The events that occurred at the temple since it opened on October 16 and closed on Monday appear to have gone according to a perfectly written script by vested interests. What happened at the temple town was something avoidable. The temple turned into a conflict zone. We are deeply pained at the manner in which Vijayan spoke with absolute contempt," said Varma.
"We wish to make it very clear: we are not at all interested in the wealth of the temple and maybe there will be some, who have an eye on its wealth and we have to find out who they are. We have not asked for a single rupee from the TDB. Our only concern and worry is that there should be no breach of traditions," added Varma.
The leader of the opposition, Ramesh Chennithala said in the state capital on Wednesday that Vijayan had only complicated the situation by his outburst.
"Vijayan has declared a war on the devotees. His outburst against the Pandalam royal family and thantri does not suit the post that Vijayan holds. The current impasse will end when Vijayan sheds his arrogance," said Chennithala.