Sabarimala row : The Emerging Hindu Unity in Kerala

In what could be described as a major victory for the Hindus in Kerala, the Chithira Aatta Visesha Pooja at Sabarimala Temple went of peacefully on Tuesday without any untoward incident.  The Pooja had  caught the national attention as the CPI-M led Kerala government  was bent upon allowing women of child bearing age onto the sanctum  of the temple as part of the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict. The Sabarimala incidents have alienated the Hindus of the State from the CPI-M and the Congress.

 The Holy Shrine atop the Western Ghats in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district had turned into a war zone as the Government deployed armed cops in battle fatigues to maintain law and order. Thousands of devotees who had made it to the temple were stopped by the police at Pampa, some 20 km away from the temple and prevented the buses coming from far away places to proceed further.

All boarding and lodging facilities were locked as per the instruction of the police Even the toilets in sabarimala were locked and sealed by the police which resulted in unprecedented hardship to the devotees who had come all the way from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Supply of drinking water to the shrine was stopped by Monday afternoon and the devotees who trekked all the way from Pampa to the shrine was abused and physically assaulted by the cops for reasons best known to the latter themselves.

The plan hatched by the Government to make women enter the temple fell flat as a 22 year old woman who was brought to the shrine was denied entry by the devotees. It turned out that the woman “devotee” was the wife of   Vijith, a CPI-M activist cum bootlegger from Cherthala in Alappuzha district. Vijith  is an accused in a murder case and has many cases registered against him. Since no women devotees were willing to violate the age-old custom of entering the temple, the party leadership selected the murder accused and told him that he would be acquitted of all charges if he manages to bring his wife to the temple.

The Ayyappa devotees objected to the entry of the woman into the temple by reciting hymns. The  woman devotee to the protesters that she had been brought to the temple against her will by her husband who had threatened  her of “dire consequences” if she does not obey his order.

The Police took into custody Rajeevararu Kantararu,  the chief priest of the temple, for almost nine hours and his cell phone was seized. Kantararu was not allowed to speak to anybody including the priest of the temple who had come to take instructions from him. The police used filthy language and tried to provoke the devotees by showing obscene signs. But since the devotees remained calm and quiet, the police had to make a retreat. Later, the same cops masquerading as Ayyappa devotees joined them to create law and order problems. But the vigilant devotees exposed the fake Ayyappas who ran away to safety fearing public ire.

The temple doors were closed on Tuesday night after the trouble free festival. The smooth and incident free festival proved that the devotes are united in their opposition to the  CPI-M led government’s move to seize the temple and appoint one of the State Committee members as the Thanthri. Though the CPI-M controlled journalists belonging to Asianet TV, Manorama News, Mathrubhumi News and People TV (the channel owned by Pinarayi Vijayan and Kodiyeri Balakrishnan) were telecasting news claiming that  the devotes have let loose terror all over the shrine, the Janam TV, which beamed live pictures from the shrine exposed the lies propagated by the former channels.

Elsewhere in the State, women in the 10-50 age groups led massive rallies and processions on Tuesday reciting hymns and prayers for the safety of the devotees and the security of the temple. The prayer meetings held all over Kerala came to an end openly after the chief priest of  Sabarimala closed the temple doors following the “Athazha Pooja”.

This episode of Sabarimala agitation has come as  shocker to the CPI-M and the Congress because of the  anti-Hindu stance of these parties. Hundreds of CPI-M supporters have bade farewell to the party because of the intransigent approach of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government  to admit women of child bearing age into the temple. “The Kerala Government says it was implementing the Supreme Court order by allowing women into the temple. But what about the  verdicts delivered by the Supreme  Court in cases like the minimum salary for nurses and the entry of devotees into the Orthodox Church?” asked  Jayasree and Anu Jacob, working as nurses in private hospitals.

The CPI-M, which had a big support base in Kerala is facing unprecedented erosion of cadre. The Congress was already labelled as a party of the Christians by none other than late K Karunakaran, former chief minister of the State. The failure of the Congress leadership to convince the Kerala Government  to go slow in implementing the Supreme  Court verdict has upset the party’s Hindu supporters. The displeasure of the public towards these parties is expected to help the BJP to make the lotus bloom in the southern State.

“Though the party may not win many seats, it may emerge as the deciding factor in Kerala politics. If they win a dozen assembly seats , it would become the King maker of the State,” said P Rajan, veteran scribe and commentator. The impressive show put up by the RSS activists in Sabarimala is expected to yield big bounty to the BJP in the upcoming Lok  Sabha election from the State “If they win two Lok Sabha seats from Kerala, you can tell that the BJP is the  party to be watched,” said K Balakrishnan,  editor, Janmabhumi.

Last week saw eminent persons like former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair, former ember of Kerala State Women’s Commission Pramila Devi (who is a poetess of repute), former Congress leader and former chief of Travancore Devaswam Board G Raman Nair joining the BJP. Though these personalities may not have grass root level support base, they are all popular in their respective fields and this is expected to bring in a lot of  goodwill to the BJP.

While interacting with a cross section of society in Kerala, the impression one gets is that Hindus in the State who had voted for the CPI-M in the past may not do so in future. “We feel alienated and isolated in Kerala because of the double standards of the CPI-M and the Congress. Though the Congress is a party of the Christians, the CPI-M was deceiving us all these years. The statement by a CPI-M leader Bhasurachandra Babu that his party was interested in the welfare of only the minorities has exposed the hypocrisy of the party. We will support the BJP in future,” said Rajendra Nair of Pandalam.

Author : Sushma Kumar

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