The election for the 140-member Kerala Assembly is slated to be held in less than 10 days and the LDF leader and state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has found himself in a quagmire on the Sabarimala issue once again. CM Vijayan was one of the leaders who wholeheartedly welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to allow menstruating women in the shrine of the Sabarimala temple. And since then, the faith of crores of Hindus and devotees has taken a beating as to where does the CPM leader’s allegiances lie.
It was Vijayan’s diabolical handling of the issue that helped Congress-led UDF to win 19 out of 20 Lok Sabha seats in 2019, while the BJP increased its vote share exponentially. Meanwhile, as reported by TFI, LDF was comprehensively routed. With the elections fast approaching, both (UDF and NDA) the parties have launched their manifestos where they have promised — if and when their government comes into power, it will bring legislation to protect the age-old traditions of Sabarimala.
Meanwhile, the LDF manifesto is as vague as anything can be, saying the front will support “all activities to protect the faith”… “ensuring space for the atheist to live”.
While BJP, for one, can be trusted with going ahead with the legislation, Congress on the other hand is the same party, whose leader Rahul Gandhi had initially openly endorsed the decision to allow women of reproductory age in the Sabarimala temple, only to turn back on it a few months later under pressure from the state unit. Thus, the duality by Congress is also a bit difficult to digest for us as well as the voters of Kerala.
CPM and Vijayan have found themselves on the sticky wicket after the recent statements by its Temple Affairs Minister Kadakampally Surendran last week where he expressed regret over “the incidents of 2018 at the temple”, adding, “Everyone is sad over what happened there.”
It is clear that there is internal friction and angst amongst the CPM regarding the Sabarimala issue. While Vijayan, the liberal and ultra-secular leaders are ready to sacrifice traditions at the altar of some liberal fantasy land, his partymen are still not one hundred per cent on board with his decision.
Vijayan’s antipathy towards Lord Ayyappa devotees was evident when his government in 2018 had submitted an affidavit before the Kerala High Court stating that Sabarimala is a secular temple and entry of devotees to the temple cannot be restricted on the grounds of religion. To this day, the LDF regime has not retracted the affidavit.
Thus, a party that is fighting its own cadre is expected to make believe the voters of a state that it is best suited to handle the delicate issue? Already facing the heat for the gold smuggling case and inept handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vijayan has a tough road ahead and the Sabarimala issue appears to be the final straw that can break CPM’s back.
A resurgent BJP is slowly and gradually surrounding the Left’s only remaining bastion in the country and if Vijayan cannot get his act right and side with the traditionalists on the issue, then it is certain that BJP will perform much better than what is being predicted at the moment. And once BJP gets its ‘foot in the door’ in Left’s supposed ‘fortress’, one can only imagine what would happen afterwards – a potential saffron wave throughout South India After all, UDF is doing everything in its power to eliminate itself while Congress is fully capable of sabotaging itself, courtesy a leader like Rahul Gandhi who is currently at the wheel, thereby granting advantage to BJP.