Pamba (Kerala) Aug 18 (IANS) A war of words erupted between Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) chairman Prayar Gopalakrishnan at the meeting held here on Thursday to discuss the preparations to be made at Sabarimala temple ahead of the annual pilgrimage season.
The tiff arose after Vijayan suggested that the practice of having a “VIP queue” should be stopped.
“Instead of the VIP queue, there can be one queue which can be called ‘fast track’ queue, where anybody can stand after paying Rs 250, and another one which can be called ‘super fast track’ where any devotee who pays Rs 1,000 can stand. The collected money can go into the development fund of the temple,” said Vijayan at the review meeting.
But Gopalakrishnan, a senior Congress leader and a former legislator, said that this is not possible as it would lead to the temple getting commercialised.
In his reply, Vijayan pointed out that what he said was only a suggestion.
“The TDB chairman is speaking politically and none will have a doubt, that I too can reply quite well. One should realise that the term of the chairman is three years,” said Vijayan, clearly expressing his displeasure.
The TDB is the custodian of the Sabarimala temple and several others in the southern districts of the state.
Meanwhile, state Bharatiya Janata Party President Kummanem Rajasekheran said that it is unfortunate that while the state government and the TDB should work together with the only concern being the interests of the pilgrims, here they are engaged in attacking each other.
“All issues can be settled by sitting across the table, which is not happening at all,” said Rajasekheran.
Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at 914 metres above sea level, the Sabarimala temple is four kilometres uphill from Pamba river in Pathanamthitta district, around 100 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
The temple bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, and it’s accessible only on foot from Pamba, which is often referred to as the base camp.
The annual festival season begins in November.