The Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple has triggered a battle of sorts between the Left and the Right in Kerala. Over the last few days, there have been protest rallies, public meetings, and statements from political leaders lashing out at the opposing side. Amidst all this though, there has been a lot of speculation about the BJP’s stand on the SC verdict. There have been murmurs that while the BJP central committee is non-committal about the verdict, the Kerala state committee of the party is against the verdict, mainly because they want to oppose the LDF government’s stand.
But the speculation came to an end on Saturday, when BJP president Amit Shah came to Kannur and confirmed in his speech that the party will always stand by devotees, and said that they will bring down the LDF government if they “don’t stop oppression of Ayyappa devotees.” And following this statement, the party has publicly been claiming that this has always been the national BJP’s stand.
Speaking to TNM, BJP leader and party spokesperson MS Kumar insisted that there was never a difference of opinion among the members of the party regarding their stand on the Sabarimala issue. “Just after the SC came out with the verdict, there was a meeting of the party in Delhi which I attended. Amit Shah was also present and he had made it clear that the party is against the verdict,” MS Kumar said.
“Amit Shah had said that this is not an issue that concerns the whole of India and is restricted to Kerala, or at the most south India. So he had told the Kerala BJP to take care of the matter,” Kumar told TNM.
Kumar went on to say that there is no need for any national leader to comment on this issue as they have given the state committee the permission to stand with devotees. “It is a known fact that the BJP in Kerala stood united and opposed the SC verdict. This has been the stand of every single member of the party right from the beginning,” he said, “One of the main purposes of Amit Shah’s visit to Kerala was to clear the confusion regarding this alleged difference of opinion between the Central leadership of the party and the state leadership.”
In the initial days after the verdict, many BJP and RSS affiliated people had written on social media about their disappointment over the silence from national leaders like Amit Shah and even the Prime Minister.
Speaking about the impact that Amit Shah’s visit has had on the party, a source from BJP told TNM, “When PS Sreedharan Pillai, the state president of BJP said that the state government should follow what the devotees are saying and should not try to implement the SC verdict, both the CPI(M) and CPI criticised Kerala BJP by pointing out that even our Central leadership is not standing with us and that they want to implement the SC order. But with Amit Shah’s visit and his speech, there will be an end to such kinds of criticism.”
Meanwhile, Padma Pillai, the spokesperson of the Ready To Wait campaign told TNM, “Support from any political party will not affect the movement against Sabarimala as it is a movement which was started organically by the Ayyappa devotees and goes way beyond party lines. This protest does not need the validation of any political party.”
She went on to say that the BJP had remained mute spectators following the initial days of the verdict, ie from September 28 onwards and that “it was only after October 8, that they started to lend their support to the Save Sabarimala movement.”