Hollowness left exposed after Sabarimala women pilgrims sent back
News analysis

Hollowness left exposed after Sabarimala women pilgrims sent back


None in Kerala will ever have doubts that compromise reigns supreme in the CPM when it comes to taking crucial decisions like in the case of young women entry to Sabarimala.

Promise and its execution are distance away even when the party and its Government swear by renaissance and reformation and are to build a Women Wall to breathe back life into the once-lofty ideals.

The Sunday drama at Sabarimala where a few women were escorted from Tamil Nadu up to Pamba and then taken a few metres up enroute the shrine, only to be taken back, is a classic case of this. After being taken dangerously a little distance from Pamba, the pilgrims were told by the police that it was not possible to take them forward as there was protest. A capsule version of this absurd play was enacted on Monday too. More to come, for the season never ends and many more will come as the sent-off pilgrims were told to come later.

The whole drama has an underlying tone of insincerity and it is only common logic to doubt that the CPM and the BJP-RSS combine are hand in glove over the issue.

The CPM mask was ripped off when Travancore Devaswom Board president A Padmakumar said with confidence when the 11 women pilgrims were held back by the police in Pamba on Sunday that flouting of traditions and rituals would not happen there.

The farcical drama it has been playing on the Sabarimala women entry issue was better exposed when Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran too asserted that nothing would be done to hurt the sentiments of devotees, whose case even the BJP stands for.

Whether more devotees should go to Sabarimala, situated in an already ecologically sensitive area and inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve, is an issue all together different. A section in the CPM still believes that the slogan should be 'Save Periyar Tiger Reserve’ and not 'Save Sabarimala’, especially after the devastating floods in August.

It has been three months after the September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court allowing women of all age groups to worship at Sabarimala. Immediately after the verdict was pronounced, the Left, Congress and BJP-RSS hailed it as historic. The CPM went a step ahead and said it would implement the verdict at any cost. The BJP, a few days later, found a new vote bank of devotees and made a shrewd political move to ‘uphold traditions and customs’ and began a Save Sabarimala protest which had strong violent shades. But it was honest to declare this, though unintentionally, through an announcement by its state president at a party forum. The BJP, amidst rumours of a secret pact with the CPM, pulled out of the protest at Sabarimala and turned it to an agitation against the LDF Government, faraway outside at the State Secretariat.

If the CPM was honest as it professes about gender equality and reformation and renaissance ideals it wants to uphold through the so-called Women Wall on January 1, the coming of the 11 women pilgrims from Tamil Nadu was the most opportune moment to prove its 'progressive’ credentials. All factors were in its favour. The women had informed the Government much in advance. They belonged to a group that has had a history of fighting for women's rights that the Wall too wants to concretise. The party decided otherwise as part of its politically avaricious strategy.

That also explains why after all this drama where the two warring political parties essayed their roles as they thought perfect, things remain at square one.

The Wall is only a symbol of the ideals that the party claims it supposedly is expected to stand for. Ground reality is different as the ‘ballot revolution’ means also vote banks. The party can forego principles but not the massive Hindu votes. Ideals can get symbolically represented on the Wall, whatever be the writings there.