Temple treasure: VS justifies slur against ex-royal

via VR Jayaraj | Thiruvananthapuram - Daily Pioneer published on August 24, 2011

Kerala Assembly’s Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan on Tuesday justified his attack on Uthradam Thirunnal Marthanda Varma, head of the erstwhile Travancore royal family, the traditional trustees of the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, even as his statement has caused embarrassment to his party, the CPI(M).

The Opposition leader said that his statement on Saturday last was based on the complaints of some ex-servicemen who were expelled from the security wing of the shrine by the temple administration for unknown reasons. “What I said was not my own comment but was the content of the complaints I had received,” Achuthanandan said in Thiruvananthapuram.

Achuthanandan had on Saturday said that Marthanda Varma, who worshipped at the shrine daily, used to smuggle out gold and precious stones from the temple in a pot meant for carrying “payasam” (the temple’s prasada). The remark had enraged political parties and Hindu religious outfits and social organizations.

However, the octogenarian Marxist leader did not show any sign of his preparedness to withdraw the statement. Instead, he said that he would bring the content of the complaints to the notice of the Supreme Court, which was presently handling the case pertaining to the amazing treasures kept in the secret vaults at the temple complex, valued preliminarily at Rs 100,000 crore.

Achuthanandan had also said that the ex-royal family was trying to sabotage the Supreme Court directive to examine the contents of Vault B, second of the six secret cellars in the temple, and to evaluate and document these and those in the other five vaults. That was why the royal family insisted on a Deva Prasnam (astrological examination) before opening Vault B, he had alleged.

A four-day Deva Prasnam held recently at the temple to know of the will of the deity over the move to evaluate the temple treasures had warned that those who opened Vault B and their families would face the wrath of Lord Padmanabha. The Prasnam also spoke against evaluation, documentation and videography of the articles found in the chambers.

Achuthanandan’s remarks against the royal family and the Deva Prasnam have put the Left parties, especially the CPI(M), in a difficult spot as they are yet to take a clear position on how the treasures should be used. The CPI(M)’s official position is that there is no need to worry about that till the Supreme Court takes a final decision.

Though the Marxists have avoided being dragged into the controversies over Achuthanandan’s statements, they cannot criticize him either owing to their ideology based in materialism and atheism. However, party sources are worried that Achuthanandan’s remarks could enrage the Hindu middle class, normally viewed as supporters of the CPI(M).

“The best thing the party can do now is to avoid getting dragged into the controversy,” said a CPI(M) intellectual. “We have always said that we stand for the protection of the rights of the devotees – of any religion. In that sense, the party can’t afford to openly support VS. At the same time, it can’t publicly reprimand him also because of its ideological liabilities,” he said.

“The CPI(M) is in the habit of attacking the Sangh Pariwar and Hindu organizations. But it takes extra care to avoid offending the Hindus in the area of belief and devotion. In fact, the Marxists have always taken care not to enrage the Hindus in religious matters. There is little surprise if VS’s statement has caused embarrassment to them,” said senior journalist S Rajeev.

However, the support aired by central committee member TM Thomas Isaac for Achuthanandan over the issue has caused more embarrassment for the party. But the opinion among the top party leaders is that Isaac need not be disturbed over this issue as the party could project his statement as one with origin in the compulsions of local CPI(M) politics in Alappuzha district.

Isaac had the other day publicly pledged total support for Achuthanandan on the issue. But the official neo-liberalist lobby of the party might not ask for any explanation from him in the context of the upcoming party conferences. It is said that Isaac’s support for Achuthanandan was a ploy to get his backing in his efforts to enforce his supremacy over the Alappuzha party unit.

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