THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the discovery of billions worth of treasure in the Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple cellars touching an emotional chord among Hindus here, the Oommen Chandy government may have found it politically expedient to ensure the state keeps off the wealth and allow it to remain with the shrine.
“No government will have the guts to do anything else that hurts the sentiments of the majority community. The Congress-led United Democratic government is particularly vulnerable because it is seen as minority dominated,” said political commentator B R P Bhaskar.
Emerging from a high-level security meeting on Sunday, Chandy made it clear that the treasure will remain in the temple and that the government will take steps to ensure its security.
The news of the treasure find has brought Hindu organizations like the Nair Service Society (NSS) representing the Nair caste and the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) representing the Ezhavas on a common platform, something that has rarely happened in a long time.
Opposing proposals that the wealth be used for public welfare, NSS president P K Narayana Panikker said, “No one can claim the treasures dedicated to Sree Padmanabha Swamy by the erstwhile rulers. It should be kept intact in the temple and given adequate security.”
The outspoken SNDP general secretary Vellappally Natesan went a step further and threatened mass suicides if the government tried to take over temple property. “Only Hindus and the royal family which zealously guarded the wealth have the right to decide what to do with it,” he said.
The BJP echoed their view and said it would not allow the government to even touch a single penny from the treasure.
“It belongs to the temple and should remain with the temple,” party state president V Muraleedharan said and welcomed the stand of the NSS and SNDP.
Even the CPM appeared to be going with the popular mood with former devasom minister and CPM leader G Sudhakaran demanding that the wealth should remain with the temple. “What has been found is endowment which has been preserved for centuries. We have to appreciate the fact that it was safely secured till this time. The inventory should be taken and the riches stored in the shrine itself. It belongs not to the government of the King but the temple and should be utilized only as per provisions of the Hindu Religious Endowments Act.”
He added that when a proposal to take over the temple had come up before the Left government, “I had opposed it and the maintained that the autonomous nature of the governing council should be maintained. The Devasom Board (Religious Endowments Board) is finding it difficult to run even the Sabarimala shrine,” Sudharakaran said.
On Sunday, former Supreme Court judge justice V R Krishna Iyer had demanded that parliament should be used for poverty alleviation. Writer and critique Sukumar Azhikode opposed the view that it belonged to any particular community.