Tue, 13 Nov 2012 11:34:46 GMT

Govindan Nair sworn in as new TDB president

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 12 (PTI) Former Kerala Minister M P Govindan Nair was today sworn in as the new president of the Travancore Devaswom Board at a function here.

The TDB administers temples, including the Lord Ayappa shrine at Sabarimala, in the Travancore region.

V Subhash was sworn in as the second member under the general category which was to be nominated by the cabinet, as per the Devaswom ordinance issued by the Governor.

The third member is to be elected by Hindu members in the Kerala Assembly, which would go to the CPI(M)-led Opposition considering their strength of Hindu MLAs in the House.

Amid widespread criticism, the ruling Congress-led UDF had to backtrack on a provision in the earlier draft of the ordinance which stipulated that only MLAs who gave an affidavit that they were believers in God would be allowed to vote in a bid to claim the third spot in the Board.

However, the UDF meeting last week decided to avoid the provision in the ordinance after even Congress MLAs opposed the move. The revised draft of the ordinance was promulgated two days ago.

After the swearing-in, held at the Devaswom headquarters, a new controversy has arisen as to who would control the Board''s functioning during the coming Sabarimala pilgrimage season. As of now, former Chief Secretary K Jayakumar is the Devaswom Chief Commissioner appointed on a directive of the High Court who had all the powers to run the activities till Jan31 next.

With the constitution of the new Board, there are doubts that there would be new power centres in the Board. Former Law Minister M Vijayakumar said government should have withdrawn the Commissioner with the permission of the Court before appointing a new Board.

Former Devaswom Board president Rajagopalan Nair also echoed the same view, saying there should not be two power centres in Devaswom administration when the crucial Sabarimala pilgrimage season is to begin in a few days'' time.

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