Thiruvananthapuram: Hindus alone can head Devaswom Boards, the Kerala high court ruled on October 26.

State BJP president Sreedharan Pillai, Hindu Aikya Vedi general secretary RV Babu and former Thiruvithamkoor Dewaswom Board chairman and Congress leader Prayar Gopalakrishnan had filed a petition challenging the Devaswom minister’s suggested amendments during proceedings of the House that the word ‘Hindu’ must be removed from Section 29(2) while appointing Devaswom commissioner.

The state government was asked to file an affidavit by the court in the wake of the petition.
Hindu additional secretary to the government should be appointed as Devaswom commissioner, the initial bill introduced in the house said. However, Devaswom minister introduced amendments omitting the word ‘Hindu’, apparently with an intention to appoint non-Hindus.

This move was in contravention of the agreement dealing with the formation of the United State of Travancore and Cochin, which aims to preserve customs, traditions and temple affairs.

The CPM-led LDF government, already facing flak from the people for its atheistic approach, is now on the back foot.

In the 1990s, when K Karunakaran of the Congress was the chief minister, a Christian was appointed as the member of the Devaswom Board of the Guruvayoor temple. The appointed commissioner Thampy resigned due to a severe public backlash, with agitations led by Hindu organisations called the Temple Liberation Struggle. Prominent leaders like Kummanam Rajasekharan and others were part of this protest.

The Kerala government had also recently decided that 1,680 CPI(M) workers would be appointed at Sabarimala during the pilgrimage season in November, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court verdict that allowed women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple. 

The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) that manages the shrine had been instructed to recruit only CPI(M) supporters to work on daily wages during the season.