COVID-19: BJP alleges Kerala govt didn't consult Hindu leaders on opening of temples

South India

 As temples in Kerala are all set to open on Tuesday amid relaxation in lockdown, BJP and various Hindu organizations in Kerala have questioned the state government's move to give a nod without consulting prominent Hindu groups.


The issue has snowballed into a political controversy with various Hindu groups and BJP, alleging that they were not consulted by the CPI(M)-led state government during the talks with various stakeholders regarding the opening of places of worship.

BJP State President K Surendran in a statement issued on Monday said that the government convened a meeting of leaders of many faiths to decide on the reopening of the places of worship for believers. However, it excluded important organisations such as the Temple Protection Committee among others.

"Representatives of many other Hindu organisations were not present at the meeting. Chief Minister should immediately call a meeting of Hindu leaders to ensure inclusive participation," BJP State President K Surendran said.

He also said that instead of giving importance to the opening of temples, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should give priority to give financial assistance to those temple employees who are facing hardship.

Former Kerala BJP State President and the present Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan took to Twitter alleging that the Kerala government's decision to reopen temples despite opposition from devotees smells foul.

"Neither the devotees nor the temple committees demanded the opening of temples. What is the haste? Is this a deliberate attempt by the atheist Pinarayi Vijayan government to denigrate devotees? The government

must heed to the voice of devotees and withdraw its decision," he tweeted.

Meanwhile, various organisations like Hindu Aikya Vedi, VHP, AHP and Kshethra Samrakshana Samithi have slammed the state government's move not to invite them in the meeting .

“The Chief Minister had convened a meeting regarding the opening up of temples and he had not invited any prominent Hindu leaders and the current decision to open up the divine spaces is not in consultation with the prominent Hindu leaders”, said RV Babu, Secretary, Hindu Aikya Vedi, a Hindu right-wing organisation.

“There is no demand from the Hindu leaders to open the temples at a panic time like this. This decision is taken in haste to overcome the financial crisis of the temples owned by the Devaswom Board”, he added.

“No temples owned by Hindu private individuals or trusts have decided to reopen”, he stated.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Government is going ahead with its plans to open all places of worship on Tuesday. 

This despite the fact that many mosques and churches in the state have made it clear that they would not open for the time being considering the COVID-19 situation.

 In Kerala, the government-run Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) controls 1,250 temples including major temples like Sabarimala.

The Kerala Devaswom Ministry had come out with a series of guidelines in connection with the ‘Re-opening’ of temples under the Travancore, Cochin and Malabar Devaswom board.

Earlier, Travancore Devaswom Board President N Vasu had hailed the state government's decision to reopen the temples and said that devotees can be allowed in the temples with certain restrictions.

"We welcome the government's decision of reopening the temples however we have suggested to stick to the rules of social distancing”, he had said.

N Vasu had stated that the Sabarimala Temple and the Guruvayoor Temple are set to reopen on the June 14 and June 9 respectively, with strict adherence to social distancing protocols. 

He further said that all the devotees should wear masks and there won't be any 'Annadnam'.

"There should be a facility for sanitisation. All devotees should wear masks. There won't be any 'Annadanam', we can't allow the usual way of giving 'Prasadam'," Vasu had said.

People aged over 65 and children below 10 are advised to stay at home as per the central guidelines. 

Earlier, the Kerala CM informed that the state government will follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Central government to open up these places.

Use of masks, handwashing with soap, use of sanitizers, wherever possible; maintaining six feet distance, thermal checking of temperature, maintenance of registers, and separate entry and exit points are some of the general guidelines mentioned in the SOP issued by the central government.

All the religious places of worship were closed due to the COVID-19 lockdown that was in place since March 24.

On May 30, the Centre had issued a detailed guidelines for lockdown 5.0 Unlock 1.0. 

It has allowed the opening of religious places of worship for public, hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services, shopping malls from June 8. There will be, however, no relaxation in Containment zones till June 30.


With inputs from Agency

Image credit: Live Mint



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