Bengaluru: The attempts of some women activists to enter the Sabarimala temple has raised a political storm in the country. The BJP has strongly opposed the violation of tradition that is over a thousand years old. While the Congress changed its stand recently and began supporting the protesters, the CPI(M) and JD(S) leaders have ignored the age-old custom that has defined the holy shrine.

“We have doubts that there is a large conspiracy behind what is happening in Sabarimala, which is why I took the decision to interfere. The fact that, for two-and-a-half hours, there were no protests, as these activist-women were climbing Sabarimala, points towards something else. If they had as much as stepped on the 18 steps, there would have been protests across the state. The government will not stand with those who desire to see blood fall at the sannidhanam,” said Kadakampally Surendran, the Devaswom minister of the ruling CPI(M).

The assertion begs the question, however, why Kerala Police escorted the activists, dressing them in the riot gear that cops alone are privileged to wear, if functionaries of the state government were had an inkling of a conspiracy.

“The government had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in 2016 arguing that the restriction on women between the age of 10 and 50 had been prevailing in Sabarimala since time immemorial. Congress government had withdrawn the affidavit filed by the previous Left government in 2007 favouring the entry of all women,” said Oommen Chandy, Congress leader. The same party had earlier supported the Supreme Court verdict.

“The manhandling of women journalists by the so-called devotees is unacceptable. Who are those attacking others and not allowing the implementation of the Supreme Court order? Contempt of court is a crime. They should be punished,” said Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) leader and former general secretary of the party.

MyNation has reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs had warned the Kerala government of leftist extremist groups trying to violate the Sabarimala shrine. That apart, the Sabarimala issue has overshadowed the news of ongoing protests by nuns against injustice in the case of alleged rape of a fellow sister by bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was recently granted bail.

“We should all bow down to the Supreme Court's decision on the issue of women's entry into the Sabarimala temple as per the Constitution,” said Siddaramaiah, former chief minister of Karnataka and Congress leader. He is the very politician who had played the Lingayat card in Karnataka during the election campaign in that state.

“Whatever practices they have been following for thousands of years should be preserved. Violating these practices is creating a conflict,” said HD Kumaraswamy, Karnataka chief minister and JD(S) state head. That Kumaraswamy is a religious person with strong belief in astrology as well has been reported on several occasions by the media. 

In the meantime, the Travancore Devaswom Board headed by CPI(M) member A Padmakumar has decided to strengthen the review petitions pending before the Supreme Court with a detailed report. And advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress is slated to represent the board in the apex court. During the hearing of the case, Singhvi had argued in favour of the age-old tradition, which restricts the entry of women of menstruating age into the Sabarimala shrine.