P C Punnen
In My View

Save Kerala

Kerala is facing a grave crisis. The after-effects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetisation and GST and to top it all the devastation caused by cyclone Okhi and the unexpected floods have added to Kerala's unprecedented woes.

The Sabarimala issue has hotted up. Kerala's ruling party, the CPM, and Opposition Congress and BJP have put people in dire trouble: we are not sure who will pose a threat to our lives, a situation unknown in the past.

In the next three weeks the Supreme Court will hear the review petitions related to the Sabrimala temple entry which it had given. Questions may arise as to what the judgment will be and why these violent acts by BJP and CPM. Congress and BJP have taken a stand against what they had said immediately after the SC judgment. CPM has supported the judgment allowing women of all age groups to enter the temple.

The verdict was historical and CPM said it would implement it for two reasons. It went by its stand and the government it headed was bound to implement it as there was no move by the Centre to issue an ordinance. On similar lines, the case involving the Jacobite and the Orthodox factions too had to be implemented since there was an SC judgment. The CPM hasn't cared to implement it. In the talaq, talaq, talaq case too, the SC judgement has termed it unfortunate. The Modi's government is for it and the CPM against. A question of double standards that is.
The Orthodox and the Jacobites are fighting like Kilkenny cats over the silly issue of who should have control of the churches. In brief it is a fight for money in the name of beliefs. It's a reflection of the sects. Both had endorsed the high bishop of Antioch in Syria. They fought each other and once reached an agreement that didn't last.

The condition is pathetic. The CPM has taken a stand which is no stand at all. It says it will implement the Supreme Court order but it forgets the SC order in two instances. This double standard it shares with the BJP and the Congress.

There have been unprecedented clashes in Kerala over the Women Wall initiated by the CPM. It was a huge success. About 50 lakh women joined to create history. That there was pressure on women employees to reach 50 lakh is a different matter. All parties in power do it. But this created such a shock to BJP which was also taken aback by the sudden moves by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Two women who had earlier tried to enter Sabarimala temple and were sent back by the police were successful in their second attempt immediately after the wall. The Government announced that one Sasikala of Sri Lanka had entered the temple. She was only 48 and she has disputed Pinarayi’s statement. She said that she was denied entry by the authorities. All these have provoked BJP to resort to violence. The two women who entered the temple were supported by the police.

The question arises why Pinarayi authorised it three months after the Supreme Court verdict. The two women entered the temple around 3 am making it clear that they did not want to enter the temple during regular hours for fear of causing trouble. It is a disgrace to Pinarayi's image of being a fearless man. The police could have, by giving protection to the women, ensured entry at any time. This the BJP takes as a serious threat to temple devotees and to Lord Ayyappa.
Moves like these are unnecessary because the government has waited nearly a 100 days after the temple opened.

It was uncalled for, considering the fact that on January 22nd the Supreme Court will consider hearing the review petitions. Pinarayi could have waited for it; the man who wasted nearly a hundred days for this great move. This shows that Pinarayi waited for the success of the Women Wall. In other words, for an opportune moment to strike.

The women's movement was supported by Vellapally Natesan and his son Tushar Vellapally who is with the BJP. Vellapally later said he was in favour of faith; a move to ensure the support of the faithful. The CPM could have managed the same 50 lakhs without the help of Vellapally.

The NSS has turned against CPM which it has been historically. Founder Mannath Padmanabhan had led the Vimochana Samaram against the first EMS Government which was dismissed by the Centre.

This shows the NSS, SNDP and Jacobites are engaged in a cryptic move with general elections due in four months, critical to decide the country's fate. In that context, Kerala doesn't have much importance; for it sends just 20 members to Parliament. Of those, two are candidates of the Muslim League whatever be the formation before elections.

It won't be surprising if the Congress and the CPM join hands to fight the BJP. That is the need of the hour, Pinarayi and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala might say! The CPM and the BJP may join hands by a surreptitious agreement. There is no permanent enemy or permanent friend in politics, as the saying goes.

In Kerala, high-falutin speeches by leaders of Pinarayi's stature and those in the Congress who swear by the “need of the hour” cannot be written off.

This brings us to the real issue of how Kerala can be saved from disaster. Pinarayi's rebuilding Kerala will remain a pipe dream if events go on as usual. The attack on the Press is something that can happen anytime; the condemnation of it is also the same thing.

- P C Punnen, Senior Journalist.

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