Sreedharan Pillai makes U-turn, denies speaking to Sabarimala thantri on closing temple

"I did not speak to the temple chief but to somebody from the Thantri family," Kerala BJP president Sreedharan Pillai said on Saturday.
Sreedharan Pillai makes U-turn, denies speaking to Sabarimala thantri on closing temple
Sreedharan Pillai makes U-turn, denies speaking to Sabarimala thantri on closing temple
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Kerala BJP president Sreedharan Pillai did a volte-face on Saturday when he said that the chief of the Thantri family never called him to discuss closing the Sabarimala temple doors. This is in sharp contrast to his earlier statement, which he made at a BJP Yuva Morcha meeting in Kozhikode on Monday. “I received a lot of phone calls that day. Among those calls, I spoke to someone, thinking it was a member from the Thantri family,” Sreedharan Pillai told the media persons on Saturday.

He denied mentioning the name of head priest Kandararu Rajevaru. “I never mentioned Rajevaru’s name. Somebody from the Thantri family called but I cannot remember who. Besides, if the Thantri family has denied calling me, then that’s the truth,” he said.

Incidentally, according to a report by Mathrubhumi, in a petition submitted to Kerala High Court, Sreedharan Pillai admits to calling the temple chief.  

When media persons pointed out that he had explicitly mentioned Kandararu Rajevaru’s name, Sreedharan Pillai denied doing so and instead put the onus on the journalists to find out the truth. “You are investigative journalists, so find out if I mentioned his name,” he said, dismissing the questions.

Addressing Kandararu Rajevaru as ‘thirumeni’ (chief temple priest) at the meeting on Monday, Sreedharan Pillai was heard saying, “The Thantri community believes in the BJP and its state president in particular. When the women were brought near the shrine, he called me. He was disturbed. I was one of the people whom he had called. He asked whether shutting down the temple would attract contempt of court charges. I told him that he was not alone and this was not contempt. Even if a case were to be filed, it would be against us (BJP) and thousands will give support. When I told him not to fear, Rajevaru said he was relieved.”

Stating that the BJP had planned the entire protest when Sabarimala temple was opened in October, Sreedharan Pillai also went on to say, “Sabarimala is a golden opportunity. It is an issue. Settling the Sabarimala issue in a straight line is not possible. We put forward an agenda and everyone else surrendered to it, leaving only us and our enemies, the government and its parties. When Sreejith IPS went to Sabarimala with two women, it was a Yuva Morcha leader who assembled devotees and stopped them. The outside world doesn’t know all this,” he said.

Incidentally, a few days after the speech was broadcast by television channels, Kozhikode’s Kasaba police registered a case on Thursday against Sreedharan Pillai for his controversial speech on Sabarimala. He was booked under IPC section 505 (1) (b), which deals with comments that can cause fear or alarm in the public and disturb the peace. This is a bailable, non-cognisable offence.

Reacting to Sreedharan Pillai’s statement on Saturday, CPI(M) secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said, “There has never been a BJP president who has changed his stance multiple times. He might have said so fearing the case registered against him.”  

“Do the Kerala police have the courage to arrest Sreedharan Pillai?” BJP general secretary AN Radhakrishnan asked while addressing the crowd at a Sabarimala Rath Yatra from Kasaragod on Saturday. BJP leaders MT Ramesh and PK Krishnadas too came out in support of the state party president.

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