As campaigning begins, Kerala minister regrets party stand on Sabarimala

Thiruvananathapuram, March 11 (IANS) A day after CPI-M candidates hit the campaign trail, the first feedback that they seem to have got was the wrong stand that the Pinarayi Vijayan government took with regards to the famed Sabarimala temple. This was evident when state Devasom Minister Kadakampally Surendran extended an open apology for the way things went out of hand in the temple town.
Kerala goes to the polls to elect 140 assembly legislators on April 6.
Social media is flooded with the speeches of top CPI-M leaders including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and numerous other top brass, when they took a positive stand on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 to the famed Sabarimala temple, as suggested by the apex court a few years ago. Incidentally it was Vijayan who led from the front and even went to the extent of heralding a renaissance movement, soon after the apex court ruled the entry of all women to the Sabarimala temple in 2018.
What then followed was a never seen strong protests and a ‘battle’ between the believers and the police.
At one point of time two women in the hitherto banned age group was able to get a darshan at the famed temple, with a strong police force accompanying them.
Even though at the moment the case has been referred to a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court, Surendran, in an open admission, altered the earlier position and on Thursday said looking back on what happened , all of them are deeply sad.
“We have made it very clear that whatever is going to be the apex court verdict, we will go forward only after taking into the views and opinion of all concerned into confidence,” said Surendran.
It was the Congress party which fired the first salvo, when last week the party leadership said if elected to power, Kerala will bring legislation on women’s entry to Sabarimala temple.
Not to be outdone, CM Vijayan announced all not-so-serious cases registered against the protesting believers, then will be cancelled and it was done last week.
Reacting to the Devasom Minister’s regret, state BJP president K.Surendran on Thursday said even if the state minister takes a thousand holy dips in the Ganga, his wrong position taken then cannot be cleaned away.
“Am sure all of you will remember the statements made by their top brass including Vijayan and the State Devasom Minister that for a few votes, they will not change their stand. And see now the hypocrisy of the CPI-M. It was after he took over as Devasom Minister, he was out to destroy the temple culture and systems that were there. See, now what they are saying, they are sad it seems,” lashed out Surendran.
The CPI-M which was routed in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when they managed to win just one of the 20 seats. The general perception was that it happened because of their wrong stand in the Sabarimala issue.
In the days ahead, it’s clear that both the BJP and the Congress will go hammer and tongs against Vijayan on this issue, as the first statement on this came from none other than the Devasom Minister.
But putting a brave face was State CPI secretary Kanam Rajendran who said that Sabarimala will not be an election issue and everybody had initially welcomed the verdict.

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