A case under non-bailable charges was registered on Thursday against Kerala BJP chief PS Sreedharan Pillai after he was caught on video telling party workers that last month’s agitation at the Sabarimala temple over the entry of women of all ages was “almost planned” by the saffron party.
Pillai has been booked under Section 505 1(b) of the Indian Penal Code, which refers to comments that can cause fear or alarm in the public and disturb the peace after a complaint was filed by a journalist for his inflammatory speech.
Pillai made the remarks during a meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in Kozhikode on November 4, but the audio clip emerged on Monday, the day the shrine opened for the ‘Chithira Aattaviseshom’ festival. In the audio clip, Pillai is heard saying: “Everyone followed the agenda we had put forward. One after another, everyone exited the scene after surrendering before us… the agitation in the Malayalam month was almost planned by the BJP.”
Pillai is also heard claiming that he had advised the temple’s tantri (head priest), Kandaru Rajeevaru, that “locking” the shrine’s nada, or doors to sanctum sanctorum, would “not amount to contempt of court”. However, Rajeevaru had refuted Pillai’s claim, saying he had only discussed the matter with senior members of the ‘tantri’ family and did not talk to the BJP chief.
During the agitation last month, the tantri had warned that he would shut the temple doors if women between the ages of 10 and 50 entered the premises despite a Supreme Court order allowing them to do so.
Pillai also said that the Sabarimala issue provided a “golden opportunity” for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to expand its political footprint.
When the case was registered, Pillai, a lawyer, was on a ‘rath yatra’ that was flagged off from Kasargode and will reach Pathanamtitta district, where the Sabarimala temple is located, on November 13.
Defending his remarks, Pillai said, “There is nothing wrong in giving advice”. However, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan lashed out at the saffron party, saying that the “odious politics and perfidious ways of BJP stand exposed”. CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan demanded a “high-level probe” into the remarks.