The Pandalam royal family, the custodian of the Sabarimala temple's jewellery, on Wednesday, slammed the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) for changing its opinion and now supporting the entry of all women to the hilltop shrine. This comes after TDB announced its stand in the Supreme Court as it heard numerous review petitions against its September 28 verdict lifting the ban on entry of women of all ages to the Lord Ayyappa temple. The royal family's spokesperson PS Verma said that the "true colours" of the TDB had been revealed.
"They have toed the line of the Kerala government. When they earlier said they are with the wishes and aspirations of the Sabarimala devotee, it was all a bluff. Today their true colours have surfaced and this means both the government and the TDB are out to destroy the customs and traditions of the Sabarimala temple," said Verma.
Noting that the court had now decided to give another seven days for written submissions, Verma alleged that this means that the temple premises were going to witness another showdown when it opens for the monthly pujas on February 12.
"So, as far as we are concerned, we have not lost hope as we feel that if there is going to be another setback, there is an option to file a curative petition. We will go to any extent to protect the traditions and customs of the temple," he added.
TDB president A Padmakumar denied the board had changed its stand.
"We did not file a review petition. Instead, we filed a 'delay petition' (requesting the court to defer the judgment). What I have been told is that on Wednesday we were asked about our stand in relation to the September 28 verdict. It was to this that our counsel said that they will abide by the court verdict. The court has also given time till February 13 to give in writing if there are any more things that should be brought before the court. We will meet to discuss what needs to be given in writing," said Padmakumar, a former CPI-M legislator, adding, "The TDB will abide by whatever the verdict is."
Asked if there was a shift in the stand, the TDB reminded the media that the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) organ had soon after the September 28 verdict ran a headline hailing it as "historic".
Former Chief Minister and Congress leader Oommen Chandy said the TDB's somersault showed that it was hand in glove with the Pinarayi Vijayan government. "Just what Vijayan wanted, the TDB has done," he said.
State BJP President PS Sreedharan Pillai said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has taken everyone for a ride. "The people have been cheated and very soon the people will give a fitting reply for what has happened," he said.
Former TDB president Prayar Gopalakrishnan, who also filed a review petition, said that he was confident the temple customs and traditions will be protected.