The Sabarimala drama is nearing an end. The Supreme Court will deliver its second ruling over the review petitions soon. It will end the drama which was threatening to become communal . The Centre's role is highly dubious considering the fact that the BJP president Amit Shah had come to Kerala and the astute politician that he is, he tried to boost a communal issue in a state which is entirely different from the North Indian states.
Times are changing. That's what Indians should remember. Time was when a Hindu woman had to jump into the pyre of her husband, perform Sati. The British put an end to that horrendous practice. Hinduism survived because the Hindus realised Sati was grossly unethical and cruel.
Time was when Hindus perceived going abroad on boats was against their religious beliefs. Gandhi, Nehru and Netaji Subhas Bose, to name a few, violated this practice. The heavens did not fall.
Talaq, talaq, talaq, a strange practice which permits Muslim men to divorce their wives doesn't exist in Pakistan, Bangladesh and many other Muslim states. Putting an end to that practice is something the BJP can be proud of.
In Kerala the Dalits , the Ezhavas and certain other castes were not allowed to enter Hindu temples till 1936. The Travancore Maharaja gave the Temple Entry Proclamation, a superb move by Sir CP Ramaswamy Iyer. Then temple entry was thrown open to all.
The BJP president came to Kerala and addressed a meeting raving and ranting at the Communist government. He said his party workers would pull down Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s government. It was plain rabble rousing.. Pinarayi gave a fitting reply to him. Nothing untoward happened. The party Kerala unit president said that Amit Shah did not say that but the eminent lawyer of Kerala Sreedharan Pillai did say what Amit Shah had said. Muralidharan who had translated Amit Shah's speech did not say he was wrong.
Alphons Kannanthanam , a central minister, blamed Muralidharan. Amit Shah had during the Karnataka election campaign in the presence of Yeddyurappa, former chief minister , named him as a corrupt man. It was a mistake, a grave one. The BJP without any sense of shame has changed its position, a reflection of its desperate move to win a few more votes and to get a few seats in the Kerala assembly.
Shah is an astute politician and has an idea of Kerala politics. The Congress is in doldrums over the issue of women’s entry into Sabarimala. It had earlier, like the BJP, hailed the Supreme Court verdict on the Sabarimala case. But like the BJP, it too has changed its position. Now no less than the Congress president has said he is in favour of the SC judgement but he leaves the matter to be decided by the Kerala party president Mullappally Ramachandran and leader in the assembly, Ramesh Chennithala. He knows fully well that his reputation is at stake and that the Kerala unit had taken a stand of neither supporting vehemently an agitation led by the BJP nor opposing it wholeheartedly. It was in a dilemma.
Rahul who was regarded by the people as incapable, has changed his position. It is a double edged move on his part which pleases the Chennithala group and one which the Oommen Chandy followers can't oppose. People like VM Sudheeran who has been blissfully silent on the matter had to take a stand. If the SC ruling is for change in the previous judgement given by the court it's a victory of sorts for the Chennithala group . If, most likely, the SC gives an order endorsing it's previous judgement which had four of the five judges backing it, both the BJP and the Chennithala group will have a heavy loss of face. The SC will pronounce it's ruling shortly. The CPM will have nothing to lose by that order. Pinarayi Vijayan has said it categorically. Implement the court order, that will be most likely in favour of the women and CPM and it will be a huge setback for Amit Shah's party.
The Rafale deal will again be the prime noticeable thing in the people's mind. One hopes it won't end up as an equal to the Bofors deal on which a nation saw many eminent persons losing their position. For example, Rajiv Gandhi who was removed by the electorate who had high hopes on him. The man who replaced him VP Singh had to give up too. The country saw what could be called ‘kichidi’ governments and the Bofors scandal was buried six fathoms deep. The Rafale deal, one thinks, will meet the same fate. All the brouhaha over the deal will be forgotten when the next scandal erupts.
Kerala's current controversies over Sabarimala will also be forgotten when another issue surfaces. Kerala is famous for even no issues becoming big issues. After the season, Sabarimala issue may not receive the attention it receives today from the public, political parties and the media. By February the national focus may shift to the Parliamentary polls. One is not sure whether the entry of women to Sabarimala can be a major issue in the Lok Sabha elections. Normally an issue is short lived. It is likely this too may pass.
- P.C. Punnen, Senior Journalist.
(The ideas expressed are those of the author.)