P C Punnen
In My View

Sabarimala and more

The High Court has directed instant stop of the agitation against the government at the Sabarimala temple area. It was critical of those who led the agitation and the government nominated policemen for preventing the free move of the devotees of Sri Ayyappa who had come in large numbers to offer prayers there. It is a relief to the Ayyappa devotees who came to Sabarimala but were in a quandary thanks to politicisation of their visit, a Kerala issue.

The government stands relieved. It had taken a stand that the Supreme Court verdict on the Sabarimala issue will be implemented as the government had no other go and supported the verdict, politically.The Devaswom Board has a CPM nominee and has won. The Supreme Court is most likely to endorse its order of the past on the review petition filed by those who cut a sorry figure, thanks to the agitation. The minister concerned has endorsed the move, as expected. Now everybody is happy or seems to be happy.

The reality is that the BJP has won and the CPM too has won.That leaves the Congress in dire trouble which it should have foreseen, at least by Ramesh Chennithala and the KPCC new president Mullapalli Ramachandran. The BJP will win about three or four seats, and it will be at the cost of the Congress.Three or four seats will be a big win for the BJP considering the fact that it has just one seat in the assembly now. It will be a marked entry for the BJP in Kerala where it has been trying to get a foothold.

The CPM will have the last laugh for it will be the second successive win for it. That too in spite of the government’s performance, a lacklustre one.The BJP and the Congress have the same policy as far as Sabarimala is concerned. It is a policy of denial to women of 10 to 50 years entry in the temple, a policy which the Supreme Court ruled was wrong.The Congress initially supported the judgement as did the BJP but quickly the BJP changed its stand and so did the Kerala unit of the Congress. The BJP had no choice. The Minister for Home at the centre had made it very clear, the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi made it clear that he was for gender equality. Yet the local leaders took a different stand with chaotic consequences.

That is where the BJP wins and the Congress loses. It makes no difference to the Communist parties. Considering the gravity of the situation, a loss by the Congress will be a gain for the CPM with the BJP getting a share of it. That being the case, let it not be forgotten that when EMS Namboodiripad became the Chief Minister of Kerala's first government with Communist supported candidates three of the MLAs backing it the Congress tried to topple the government .The first non-Congress government in India. When it failed, the Congress supported the agitation against the government called Vimochana Samaram which was withdrawn when the Centre dismissed the Kerala government. No central government can do it today because things have changed.

In the agitation, the RSS was against the dismissal of the government by the Centre.Things are changing. Congressmen should remember MN Govindan Nair called ‘Kerala Khrushchev’ who was the CPI secretary when EMS was the chief minister and Achutha Menon was the Home Minister.The Congress later supported the Achutha Menon government where Govindan Nair was a minister. Things change according to times.The BJP has decided to withdraw the agitation and to start a fresh one in Thiruvananthapuram. The demands would be the withdrawal of cases registered against the BJP leaders, registering of cases against some policemen and such stuff. Leader Sreedharan Pillai is expected to lead the agitation.

This agitation reminds one of the CPM led agitation during Oommen Chandy’s time as the chief minister.This BJP led agitation will end like the one the CPM led.That’s saying a lot!

Now the High Court order on the stir which created peace in Sabarimala can be considered a serious one and cannot be ignored. How could the court have passed such an order? Is it above the three, namely the Judiciary, the Executive and Legislation or just equals? The matter is fit to be discussed and debated. One has not seen the judgement.The nitty-gritty of it deserves serious attention.

- P C Punnen, Senior Journalist.

(The views expressed in the article are those of the author).