Kerela govt cold on women entry

Thiruvananthapuram: Even though the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala issue has come as a relief to the state government ahead of the Mandala Makaravilakku pilgrim season, lack of clarity on the previous judgment allowing young women in hill shrine, continues to pose a challenge to the administration.

Law Minister A.K. Balan while speaking to media persons said the verdict was highly complicated and it posed more problems for the government. “There is no question of   taking young women between the ages of 10 and 50 to Sabairmala under government’s protection and security,” he said making it amply clear that they were not ready to take any risk this time.

Notwithstanding the minister’s statement, there is still huge confusion in government circles on how to deal with young women who have registered online for darshan and organisations like Chennai based Manithi Sangham which are gearing up to visit the shrine. During the last season young women were turned away from Pamba and Nilakkal citing security threat and agitation of Sangh Parivar agitation. But this time around so far no Hindu outfit has given any call for agitation and there is no tension in Pamba and Nilakkal ahead of pilgrim season.

The chief minister’s body language and his expressions at the press conference on Thursday,  clearly indicated that the government was no longer pro-active in facilitating entry of young women. It seems to be adopting a restrained approach to avoid any provocation.

Though CPM central leaders reiterated party’s commitment to ensuring equal rights for men and women in all spheres including places of worship, in case of Sabarimala they conveniently used the term "matter is sub judice" to avoid a direct comment on allowing women in the hill shrine and also confrontation with believers.

After the rout in last Lok Sabha polls, the CPM admitted that Sabarimala issue was one of the factors behind the huge  defeat. During house visits, the top leaders of party were questioned about the haste shown by government to implement the SC verdict.

The Congress and the BJP which had initially hailed the Sabarimala verdict allowing women entry as historic, did a volte face fearing a backlash from the devotees. BJP-Sangh Parivar resorted to a violent agitation.The CPM does not want to give ‘golden' opportunity to the Congress and BJP to use Sabarimala against the governemt or the LDF this tiem.

The results of recent bypolls in Pala and five other consistencies had indicated that LDF had managed to regain much of the lost ground and support of believers. Any hasty action on Sabarim-ala, it believes, could take away that advantage and prove electorally detrimental to the ruling front in the crucial local bodies’ poll next year and Assembly elections in 2021. Clearly the CPM is not prepared to take any risk as it treads the Sabarimala path cautiously. In many ways its once bitten twice shy moment for the ruling party.

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