The government is with the devotees and not with those who plunder the temple wealth, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran has said.
However, when asked whether he meant the president and member of the recently dissolved Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), the Minister said both Prayar Gopalakrishnan and Ajay Tharayil were very good public figures.
Mr. Surendran was talking to reporters at the Devaswom Guest House at Sabarimala on Thursday.
Responding to Mr. Tharayil’s statement that the TDB’s demand for 100 acres of alienated Devaswom land at the Cheruvally estate was the immediate provocation that made the government to reduce the board’s tenure from three years to two, the Minister said making the TDB tenure two years was part of a government policy.
The government had reduced the board’s tenure from four years to two in 2007. But the UDF government that came to power later had increased it to three years.
Mr Surendran said the government was for making the tenure of all the five Devaswom boards in the State uniform.
The term of the Malabar Devaswom, Guruvayur Devaswom, and Koodal Manikyam Devaswom was two years, the Cochin Devaswom too would be made two years soon, he said.
It was a fact that the government had certain differences with the previous board with regard to entry of women of all age groups to Sabarimala and changing the name of Sabarimala temple, he said.
Mr. Surendran said he had opposed the TDB move to make the former Devaswom secretary who was facing corruption charges as the Devaswom Commissioner and directed him to go on leave.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had suggested setting up transit camps for pilgrims at all major places across the State and the government had identified 37 sites from Kasaragod to Neyyattinkara for the same, Mr. Surendran said.
The LDF government has succeeded in a silent revolution in Devaswoms by permitting the eligible non-Brahmins to perform rituals (puja) at temples attached to the TDB), he said.
The Minister said as many as 36 non-Brahmins, including Dalits, had been appointed as priests at various TDB temples.