Congress, BJP take on CPI-M over Sabarimala women entry issue


Kerala’s opposition Congress and BJP on Tuesday took on the CPI-M over a “suspected” dilution in the ruling party’s stand on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 to the Sabarimala temple.

Even as the issue is before a seven member bench of the Supreme Court, the Congress last week said that if it wins the coming Assembly polls, it will bring legislation on women’s entry to the hilltop temple.

In a reaction, CPI-M Central Committee member M.V. Govindan, indirectly referring to the issue, said that “it was impractical to implement dialectical materialism in a society which was not even ready to accept materialism”.

This statement from Govindan was seen as a bid to win back the Hindu votes and then came the statement from CPI-M Politburo member M.A. Baby saying that a fresh affidavit on this would be given in the apex court. However, soon he backtracked and said what he meant was that once the verdict comes, there will be a detailed talk with all sections to decide the way ahead.

Soon after the apex court had allowed entry of all women into the temple a couple of years ago, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had moved the implement the verdict, and even went to the extent of heralding a “renaissance movement”.

But the issue had sparked off strong protests and led to confrontations between hardcore believers and the police. At one point, two women in the hitherto banned age group were able to get darshan, with a strong police force accompanying them.

The CPI-M’s stand came to haunt it as the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Vijayan and the CPI-M, who were expecting to win 19 out of the state’s 20 seats, had to remain content with one. The general belief was it was a huge backlash by the Hindu voters, which decided to teach Vijayan and the CPI-M a fitting lesson for trying to dilute the tradition of Sabarimala.

Following the CPI-M leader’s statements, BJP’s state President K. Surendran said that it is not for people like Baby “who are sidelined in the party” to come out with such statements and instead Vijayan should come clean on what their stand is.

“The need of the hour is Vijayan should apologise to the believers for their wrong stand that they took and then decide on a fresh affidavit. Baby’s statement means nothing, as he is only an ‘outsider’ in the party,” he said.

Leader of Opposition and Congress veteran Ramesh Chennithala expressed surprise in the dilly-dallying of the CPI-M on the issue, asking if Vijayan has laid down his position as the leader of the renaissance movement.

State Congress president Mullapally Ramachandran said all these are nothing but a tactical move by the CPI-M and they should first discuss with all concerned before, they make any move.

Hitting back, state Culture and Devasom Minister and senior CPI-M leader A.K. Balan said the Congress and others are trying to rake up passion for securing votes in the upcoming Assembly polls.

Joining issue was the powerful Nair Service Society, the socio-cultural body of the Hindu Nair community, whose General Secretary Sukumaran Nair, in a statement on Tuesday, blamed all the three political fronts for trying to score political points with the elections round the corner and pointed that each of these political outfits had time to work towards for upholding the interests of the believers.