In an unprecedented move, the left government in Kerala seems to have taken a right turn from its earlier stance that it will implement the Supreme Court verdict on the Sabarimala issue of entry of women of all ages to the shrine with immediate effect. Earlier, the state government had undertaken that whoever wants to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala will be escorted by the police and that it is going to implement the apex court verdict no matter what.
However, now the left government has gone back on its words. It has now changed its stand and has asked the Inspector General of Police (IG) to bring back the women who were trying to enter the Sabarimala temple to the base camp.
Two women who were on their journey to the shrine had to return halfway after the concerned minister identified that the women who were trying to enter shrine were activists and not real devotees. The minister has also claimed that the Sabarimala temple is not a place for the activists to ‘prove their point’ and it is for the government to facilitate the real devotees to reach the temple and to offer prayers there. The women activists are now being seen as a hindrance to visit by the real devotees.
This is a huge development as it shows that the so called secular Communist government has surrendered when faced with the unity of the devotees. The atmosphere was already tense given the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala and after the government tried to forcibly implement it, widespread protests, mostly led by women devotees erupted in the area around the shrine. These female protestors did not only dissuade other women from entering the shrine but also tried preventing other women within the age group of 10-50 years from entering the temple. It seems that the left government has now faltered to the widespread protests.
Earlier, the Left government had claimed that it will remain true to its secular credentials and implement the apex court verdict. Kerala government had earlier taken a firm stance in favour of entry of all women to the Sabarimala and had ruled out filing a review petition before the apex court on this issue. The question that now arises is why the Communist government has suddenly taken a right turn on this issue sending the two women ‘activists’ back to the base camp. It is clear from this that the protests and discontentment among the devotees of Bhagwan Ayyappa has brought the Communist government under a lot of pressure. It has realised that it took the wrong step and now fears a further backlash among Hindus against the incumbent government. There is a general perception that Hindus in Kerala are disconcerted with the unnecessary harsh stance taken by the left government.
Traditionally, the Left gets a fair share of Hindu votes in the state while the Congress enjoys considerable share of Muslim votes. The communists must have realised that if they continue taking Hindus for granted, then it might face a backlash from the Hindus during the Lok Sabha polls in Kerala next year. One big factor might be the emergence of BJP in the state. The Communist government must have realised that the Hindus might turn to BJP if the government ends up irking the Hindus. The Communist government which is already not getting Muslim votes has understood that it will be decimated if it continues taking Hindus for granted.