The CM talked about the reformation movements that Kerala had led and how it is befitting that the state execute the Sabarimala verdict.

Not the governments policy to fight with devotees Kerala CM on Sabarimala verdict
news #Sabarimala Monday, October 08, 2018 - 20:10

As protests against the Supreme Court judgement allowing women of all ages to enter the Sabarimala temple continue, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday came out with a press meet explaining how a progressive state like Kerala had led reformation movements and hence how it is befitting that the state execute the verdict.

On Congress stand

Talking about the Congress party’s stand on the verdict, the CM said, “We welcome the historic Supreme Court judgement allowing entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala temple – this was the stand of the national leadership of the Congress when the verdict came out. Former CM Oommen Chandy had also said that the judgement was applicable to all and that the affidavit filed by the previous Congress-led government was not relevant anymore. The Congress has now taken a stand which is against tradition and perspective. They have even destroyed their past tradition. History will prove how strong the impact of this will be on Congress’ politics in the state in the future.”

On BJP stand

The CM remarked, “The BJP had also initially welcomed the verdict. Later they opposed the verdict and became ready to create riots in the streets. BJP’s stand was to not take part in the reformation movements in the state, but instead destroy them. The BJP has taken a double stand on this issue. In Maharashtra the BJP government executed the High Court verdict of allowing entry for women into the Shani Shingnapur temple, there was no protest from the BJP government or from the party there. The SC also lifted the ban on women entering Haji Ali Dargah and allowed the right to prayer.”

The government’s stand

“The government’s stand on the issue is clear – to ensure equal freedom and opportunity for all sections of people in the society. The government is also committed to implementing equal justice for everyone. The government will continue its efforts to do this. It is not the government’s policy to fight with the devotees. At the same time the government won’t succumb to the efforts of those who have been trying to create tensions with political motivations,” the CM said.

How Kerala got a secular bent of mind

“The unity to survive the floods the state witnessed had attracted widespread response which has also helped in reconstructing the state. It should be doubted that there is a deliberate attempt to destroy such a united attitude of the people. The peculiar unity in the state during the deluge was a reflection of Kerala’s secular mind which evolved through the reformation movements the state had witnessed. The period before the movements was such that Swami Vivekananda had asked if it is a mental asylum,” Pinarayi said.

He added, “The movements led by Sree Narayana Guru, Ayyankali, Chattambi Swami and other great personalities have in fact drastically changed our state. The Left, Labour and Farmer movements later took up such movements.”

He cited examples from history like Villuvandi yathra, the historic journey carried out by social reformer Ayyankali on roads on which only upper caste people were allowed to travel.  

“Though in the past there was a notion not to intervene in the existing customs of princely states, later we witnessed the national movement. In reality, the state had become a guide for the country through several agitations.”

He also cited the revolutionary Vaikom Satyagraha of 1924. “Even Mahatma Gandhi supported the struggle, apart from social reformers from various parts of the country who came and participated in the movement. Among them the most important was a rally led by Mannathu Padmanabhan to gain public support for the satyagraha. Some other protests emerged following the Vaikom Satyagraha like the Guruvayur Satyagraha. It was as a result of all this that the state could progress ahead defeating all the conservative attitudes. The peculiarity in all this is that there was active efforts towards women’s issues as well. This led to finding new paths for the lives of women in the state.”

“There were agitations for the right to cover women’s breast, for remarriage of widows and the right to education for women. It was a continuation of all these that land reforms were implemented. By this the basic elements of feudalism was eliminated from the economic sphere, apart from social and cultural spheres. It was like this that our land progressed to the current state. Women could make big progress in modern education and employment.

“Even the practice of keeping women away from the kitchen during menstruation changed. While examining the pattern of this change one thing is clear – the agitations against wrong practices and customs of communities had been formed from within the communities as a result of the intensive tensions formed within them,” the CM added.

On Thantri family not attending CM meeting

“I don’t want to comment on this. The meeting was called by the CM of a state, it is for them to examine if their decision not to attend is right or wrong,” the CM said when asked about the Thantri family’s decision not attend a conciliation meeting on the Sabarimala issue scheduled for Monday.

Issues to related to women’s entry into Sabarimala

The CM said, “It is not the government’s decision that paved the way for the judgement. The issue became active in the legal sphere of Kerala after the High Court considered a letter sent by one Mahendran as a Public Interest Litigation.

“The letter complained that women were entering Sabarimala, special consideration was given for the wives of VIPs, and that appropriate action should be taken against those concerned. In the HC verdict of 1991, it was said that the letter was transformed as a PIL as per article 226 of the Indian Constitution. A photo of the first meal eating ceremony of children in which women were seen taking part was published in Janmabhumi daily which made the case active in the court. The Kerala unit of the Indian Federation of Women Lawyers and president of Kerala Kshethra Samrekshana Samithi MV Gopalakrishnan had sought to be parties in the case and the court accepted those petitions,” the CM cited.

On growing protests

When asked about the growing protests, the CM said, “There was a practice in India of offering a girl child into the mouth of crocodiles to get a boy child. In 1862 the practice was abolished, but women continued the practice. The army then shot the crocodiles to death. When such changes happen in society, there will be protests even from the beneficiaries. When the protest to cover breasts of women turned a success, the women who were reluctant to follow it beat up the women who covered their breasts. Hence came the law that women should enter temples only after covering their breasts.

“What the government is doing is simply executing the judgement. The RSS is making use of the situation and deliberately trying to create tensions and law and order problems. The government’s policy is that women should be allowed entry into Sabarimala. But what the government stated at the SC was that the scholars among the devotees should also be heard. In the affidavit filed by the government at the SC, there is nothing that will offend devotees. Our state should stand united now. Regarding the review petitions filed by organisations like NSS and SNDP, they have to rethink it.”

The Chief Minister also elaborated on the arguments in favour of women’s entry that the SC had examined. He mentioned a letter by former state president of Hindu Aikya Vedi and BJP leader Kummanam Rajasekharan (currently the Governor of Mizoram).

The CM stated, “In the letter to former Sabarimala temple priest Maheswararu, there were details about movie shooting, wedding ceremonies and women dancing in Sabarimala.”



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