Bengaluru: As Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday announced a series of steps to implement Friday’s landmark verdict by the Supreme Court allowing women in pilgrim centre Sabarimala, opposition leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress have threatened to protest.

After a high-level meeting, Vijayan said in a statement that the government had decided to put in place a range of facilities for women in Sabarimala, ranging from reserved seats in buses to building separate women-only bathing hubs and introducing digital booking.

The BJP has threatened street protests against the verdict. The Congress, on the other hand, said it wanted the government to issue an ordinance against the order.

The pilgrim site which attracts about 3 million devotees annually, has so far allowed only men in accordance with customs upheld previously by the Kerala High Court. The SC order has made Sabarimala a point of contention between the left and the right in Kerala ahead of 2019 general election.

Kerala is the last bastion for the Communist Party of India (Marxist), whose leader Vijayan “wholeheartedly welcomed" the verdict. Beyond merely enforcing his constitutional duty to implement the order, Vijayan had asked officials to strongly back the spirit of the order, an official said.

The left leader stands at odds with the BJP and the Congress, both of which have opposed the verdict as an infringement on religious rites of Hindus.

Congress leader and leader of the opposition in the Kerala assembly, Ramesh Chennithala on Monday said the government-run Travancore Devaswom Board, which runs the Sabarimala temple, should file a review petition against the Supreme Court verdict. “The social impact and practical difficulties of the Supreme Court verdict should be taken into consideration," he told reporters.

The BJP’s Kerala president Sreedharan Pillai, who was initially soft in the criticising the verdict, made an aggressive defence about protecting the status quo on Monday. On Wednesday, the BJP’s front organisations, Yuva Morcha and Mahila Morcha, would conduct street protests against the order, he said. He also asked the government to issue an ordinance to protect the customs of Hindu believers.

National leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s parent body, had earlier come out in support of allowing women to Sabarimala. “The RSS view is that men and women should have equal rights, but special customs, if needed, should be maintained," Pillai told television reporters.

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