Launching a scathing attack on Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday accused him of following diktats of BJP chief Amit Shah rather than obeying his party president Rahul Gandhi. Irked, Vijayan said the massive protests over the Supreme Court's Sabarimala verdict allowing entry of all women at the Kerala shrine apparently showed "who was Chennithala's leader". "It is not Rahul Gandhi, but Amit Shah," he added.
Vijayan's barb came on the heels of Chennithala's allegations that RSS leader Valsan Thillenkary was given a free hand to run the show on the hallowed 18 steps of the Lord Ayyappa shrine last month. Soon after, the Kerala CM retorted saying, "While the Bharatiya Janata Party was stationed in front of the state secretariat, you have started it here. This clearly shows the relation you have with the BJP/RSS".
"One cannot cheat all the people all the time and now you have been exposed, as you have become the closest buddy of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh," Vijayan added.
To continue the war of words, Chennithala replied, "Everyone saw how RSS leader Valsan Thillenkary was controlling things standing at the hallowed 18 steps of Sabarimala temple in November."
With this the proceedings inside Kerala Assembly turned chaotic, leading the Speaker to wrap up the business within less than half an hour after the session was convened.
In a path-breaking judgement, the Supreme Court had on September 28, struck down a century-old hitherto tradition at Sabarimala Temple and ruled that women of menstrual groups can enter the temple, saying “women no way inferior to men”.
Since then, Kerala witnessed a string of protests with agitated protesters blocking the entry of many women who attempted to reach the hill shrine in Sabarimala and further urged the government to take legal steps in order to revert the Supreme Court order.
The Pinarayi Vijayan government, however, had promised to implement the court's verdict which allows the entry of all women to pray at the Lord Ayyappa shrine.
Thousands of protesters have been arrested and over 500 cases have been registered so far in connection with the series of incidents triggering violence across the state.