Religious and business interests of evangelists and massive corruption are said to be behind Pinarayi Vijayan’s undue hurry and ruthless implementation of the Supreme Court order on Sabarimala. Despite reverses from the Kerala High Court on the handling of the Sabarimala issue and mounting public protests, Pinarayi is pressing ahead with the plan.
Even Communist Party members are baffled by the suicidal anti-devotee move of the chief minister. Pinarayi Vijayan and CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan have been saying that just for four votes they won’t change the decision of allowing young women at Sabarimala, though the party is silent on the Supreme Court order on Orthodox church of Piravam.
What is driving the chief minister to take up the political risk is the proposed Erumeli airport project near Sabarimala for which the state Cabinet had given its approval. What is interesting is that the proposed site of the airport is in Cheruvally Estate owned by Bishop K P Yohannan’s Believers’ Church. About 2000 acres of Sabarimala Devaswom land is illegally occupied by the Evangelical group. The airport will become financially viable only if Sabarimala becomes a tourist destination. Last Mandala season more than 5 crore devotees visited the temple.
Since the ownership of the land is mired in a row, with a case against the order to seize the land, it will not be a cakewalk for the government. There is a move to regularize the illegally occupied land of the Believer’s Church. Locals opposed to the project said that massive corruption is involved in the move to regularize grabbed land.
Media reports say that former Ernakulam District Collector Dr M G Rajamanickam, who was appointed as the Special Officer of the government to confiscate the illegal and excess estate lands under the custody of various companies, had issued an order in May, 2015, confiscating the 2,268 acre of land from Believers’ Church. However, the Church approached the HC.
While the government has a real chance of winning the case against Believers’ Church, the government is making an attempt to acquire the land from the Church, allegedly offering them 25 per cent share in the airport project. This will amount to regularizing the illegally held temple land also.
If the airport comes up, then there would be a huge inflow of tourists to this place. The traditions in Sabarimala are a big hurdle in the way to making this region a tourist destination. “Crores of rupees has been exchanged by leaders of Communist party in there foreign accounts. Pinarayi’s Visit to USA can be linked to this and also many Congress leaders soft stand on Sabarimala is suspicious,” said a BJP leader.
He is the highest beneficiary of foreign donations for conversion activities. KP Yohannan shares excellent rapport with Sonia Gandhi, TKA Nair (Principal Secretary to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh), Ommen Chandy and Pinarayi Vijayan and John Brittas.
Chief Minister Vijayan sometime ago suggested Sabarimala should be opened 365 days in a year (https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/news/india/let-sabarimala-be-open-for-365-days-kerala-cm/articleshow/53762193.cms). This should be seen in this perspective. The state government also has plans to make Sabarimala an international tourist destination, though it is situated in environmentally sensitive zone. This will throw open huge business opportunities to Believer’s Church which owns huge land parcels.