Kerala Devaswom Minister K Radhakrishnan on Tuesday said caste system was a "stain" in the minds of certain people and it was not easy to remove it instantly, remarks that came in the wake of his disclosure of facing discrimination at a temple in the state.
Compared to many northern states, Kerala has come a long way in eliminating caste-based discrimination and the society in the southern state would not accept such evils at any cost, he told reporters here.
Radhakrishnan's disclosure of having faced discrimination during a recent temple event has triggered outrage in the state.
"It is not easy to change the mindset created by the caste system. It is a stain in the minds... It is not easy to remove it like a stain on clothes," he said.
Though the society in Kerala could change such a mindset to a great extent, it was still deeply ingrained in the minds of some individuals, he added.
The Devaswom minister clarified that he did not intend to turn the incident into a controversy and just tried to sensitise people about the social evil. He reiterated that discrimination was shown only towards people and not money.
Radhakrishnan also indicated that he was not going to pursue any legal action against the discrimination he faced.
Radhakrishnan, who hails from the Scheduled Caste community, had on Monday said two priests of a temple refused to hand over the small lamp they had brought to light the main lamp placed at the venue for marking the inauguration at the shrine. Instead, they themselves lit the main lamp, and after that placed the small lamp on the ground, thinking that he would take it, he had alleged.
Though the minister didn't reveal the name of the shrine, news channels aired the visuals of the recent inauguration of "nadapandal" at a temple in Payyannur in Kannur district, in which the minister participated.
It could be seen in the visuals that the priests were not handing over the small lamp to the minister and placing it on the ground.
Criticising the gesture, Payyannur MLA T A Madhusoodan said he also took part in the function and expressed his strong protest against it on the day itself.
"The priests placed the fire lamp on the ground, but we didn't bother to take it.. It is an unacceptable and immature act," he said.
However, the temple authorities were yet to react on the matter.
When his reaction was sought, the temple tantri told the media that he was not present at the shrine when the incident occurred.
Radhakrishnan, a member of the central committee of the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), is the Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes and Devaswoms.
He represents Chelakkara constituency of Thrissur district.
He served as Minister for the Welfare of Backward and Scheduled Communities and Youth affairs from (1996 2001), opposition Chief Whip (2001 to 2006) for the Kerala Legislative Assembly and Speaker of Kerala Legislative Assembly (2006-2011).