Sabarimala women entry issue has become a heated topic of discussion in the election-bound Kerala, with senior CPI-M Kerala leader and state Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran on Thursday expressed regret over the incidents that took place in Sabarimala over the women entry issue.

Surendran’s remark appeared to have evoked images of the tumultuous days in several quarters. His confession ahead of the Assembly elections is viewed as an attempt by the LDF to prevent a repeat of the backlash it faced in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Nair Service Society (NSS), reacted sharply to Surendran’s comment. NSS general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair said a passing expression of regret would not pull the curtains down on the highly emotive issue.

If the Devaswom minister is sincere to his words, the LDF government should file a new affidavit in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on the entry of women between the age of 10 and 50 to the temple, he said.

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the minister is deceiving the devotees by expressing regret over the incidents in Sabarimala. He asked Vijayan would publicly say that his stand was wrong and that he was pained by it. BJP state president K Surendran said Kadakampally is now crying out scaring backlash the coming polls and the people of the state would not believe him.

“The minister would not be forgiven for the cruelty and injustice shown to devotees, even if he takes a dip in the Ganga a thousand times,” he said.

Surendran has on Thursday accepted that the government committed a mistake by allowing women to enter the shrine. “The incident that took place in 2018 was something which had pained all of us. It should never have happened. It has pained everyone, it has pained me also,” Surendran said.

Meanwhile, BJP has faced a setback in the attempts to field Pandalam royal family representative in the Kerala Assembly polls.

It is believed that Lord Ayyappa, the deity of Sabarimala shrine belonged to the royal family of Pandalam included in the Viswamitragotra. The kingdom is famed for its kinship with Ayyappa, the son of Harihara (the fusion of Shiva and Vishnu).

If anyone from the Pandalam royal family enters the electoral fray, BJP expected that they can keep the Sabarimala issue alive during the polls.