The Congress-led Opposition on Thursday disrupted the Kerala Assembly proceedings for the second day in a row while demanding a discussion about the Sabarimala temple row, Manorama Online reported. The protest prompted Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan to adjourn the House within 20 minutes after the proceedings started.
On Tuesday, the United Democratic Front had decided it would stall the proceedings of the 13-day Assembly session until the state government withdraws the prohibitory orders imposed at and around Sabarimala.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala asked the Speaker to consider their notice for an adjournment motion over the lack of infrastructure facilities for devotees at the pilgrimage site. The United Democratic Front leaders demanded that the Speaker scrap the Question Hour to allow legislators to discuss the revocation of the prohibitory orders imposed near the temple.
Opposition leaders shouted slogans against Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and held up placards in front of the speaker. Vijayan had said that the curfew would be lifted only if the threat of violence diminished.
The Speaker, however, turned down their demand to cancel the Question Hour saying that it was their duty to discuss public matters during that time slot. “Entry of women into the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala is a significant subject,” Sreeramakrishnan said. “But we cannot go on discussing this topic only.”
The Speaker urged the protesting legislators to follow Governor P Sathasivam’s advice to remember that the proceedings are being watched by the public. The governor, at an event in Malappuram on Wednesday, said lawmakers need to be mindful of their conduct in the House.
The temple opened on November 16 for the third time since the Supreme Court in September allowed women of all ages to enter the shrine. But so far, no woman between the ages of 10 and 50 has been able to enter the temple due to massive protests. Before the top court’s ruling, women of menstruating age were not permitted to enter the temple.
The Kerala Police had imposed restrictions on devotees at the Sabarimala temple after repeated incidents of violence at the temple and arrested several devotees for defying prohibitory orders. Several organisations have appealed in court against the imposition of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits four or more people from gathering in one place, at and around the shrine.