“Sabarimala is being used for political gains by the Sangh, and the Congress has also fallen for it,” Vijayan told the media here as he read out a written statement, during a hour-long interaction.
“These people are trying to use faith for political gains. Ideology should be dealt ideologically.
“Just look at the people who have been arrested from Sabarimala,” he said, adding that it included known Sangh Parivar activists.
“We will not allow these forces to take over Sabarimala,” Vijayan told the media, naming individually each one of the 69 detained on Monday and sent to jail after they violated the prohibitory orders imposed in and around the temple town.
These people have criminal cases registered against them in Kerala police stations and it was they who have arrived as Sabarimala pilgrims, he added.
“The police showed maximum restraint and only when the known trouble-makers took law into their hands, did the police act and take such a step,” he added.
The pilgrims were supposed to vacate the temple premises at 10 p.m., but over 200 devotees stayed put chanting till the police cracked down in a post midnight action.
While Vijayan’s presser was underway in the state capital, the entire top brass of the Congress-led UDF landed in Nilackal — the first entry point to the temple town — for an on the spot assessment.
Before the delegation was put on a bus to Pamba, former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy along with others were found squatting on the ground as they demanded lifting of the prohibitions in Sabarimala.
“We are not here to disrupt peace. Vijayan should not generalise all pilgrims to Sabarimala as ‘trouble makers’,” Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said.
“The police are free to take action, but the genuine devotees should not be troubled,” he added.
The Congress leader slammed Vijayan’s government for turning out to be “an abject failure and turning what has always been a divine pilgrimage into a nightmare”.
The Lord Ayyappa shrine that opened its doors at 5 p.m. on November 17 for the two-month long pilgrimage, has been witnessing protests by Hindu groups since September 28 when the Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the temple that hitherto banned girls and women aged between 10 and 50.
The apex court on November 13 refused to stay the September verdict.
The CPi-M led LDF government has been trying hard to see that the apex court verdict is implemented as the Bharatiya Janata Party/Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Sangh Parivar forces and the Congress-led UDF have been up in arms against the violation of the temple tradition.