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BJP Gears Up to Fight the Sabarimala Verdict Amid RSS U-Turn and Confusion

The tumult in the Saffron cadres is visible as the Bharatiya Mahila Morcha, the women's wing of BJP, carried out an agitation in front of the headquarters of Travancore Devaswom Board

Chandrakanth Viswanath | CNN-News18

Updated:October 5, 2018, 12:46 PM IST
BJP Gears Up to Fight the Sabarimala Verdict Amid RSS U-Turn and Confusion
A five-judge constitution bench had lifted the ban on entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine (News18 Creative by Mir Suhail)
Thiruvananthapuram: After a week-long inertia caused by the confusion due to the stand taken by RSS, the state unit of BJP is gearing up for a battle against the Supreme Court verdict, permitting women of all ages into the hill shrine at Sabarimala.

However, the tumult in the Saffron cadres is visible as the Bharatiya Mahila Morcha, the women's wing of BJP, carried out an agitation in front of the headquarters of Travancore Devaswom Board in the state capital against the verdict, while Janmabhumi, a newspaper headed and promoted by BJP, published an article supporting the verdict.

The article is written by R Sanjayan, the deputy director of Bharatiya Vichara Kendram (the brainchild of RSS ideologue P Parameshwaran, started in 1982) and a member of RSS executive council. It says the verdict will not affect the sanctity or traditional rituals of the temple. “Some people are trying to create ambiguity among Hindus on the basis of this verdict. There is nothing in the verdict that adversely affects Hindu beliefs or dharma. An increase in the number of women devotees in Sabarimala will only increase its specialty and fame," Sanjayan said in the article.

However, PS Sreedharan Pillai, the state president of BJP who distanced himself from the article, pledged his support to the public protest by the devotees. "Janmabhumi is not the mouthpiece of the party. It is an independent newspaper. It has independent views. Party does not want to force any kind of opinion on anyone. Everyone is free to air their view and the newspaper may carry it as it is their freedom,” he told News 18.

Later in the day, addressing a media conference, Pillai asked the state government to file a review petition against the verdict as early as possible. “The Bharatiya Janatha Yuva Morcha and the Mahila Morcha are already in the protest against the verdict. However, BJP directly is getting involved with the agitation,” he said.

As a prelude to the battle, he also met the community leaders and various stakeholders of the temple, including the members of the Thanthri family (head priest) and the Panathalam Royal family (the erstwhile royal family holds the guardianship of which Lord Ayyappa).

Meanwhile, a 2016 Facebook post by K Surendran, another state leader of BJP, welcoming women of all ages into Sabaraimala was allegedly deleted from his page on Thursday.

The RSS, which welcomed the September 28, verdict had softened the stand on October 3 with a statement by Sarkaryawah Suresh Joshi that said: “It is an issue of a local temple tradition and faith to which sentiments of millions of devotees, including women, are attached.”

He blamed the state government for “the steps to implement the judgment with immediate effect without taking the sentiments of the devotees into consideration. There is an obvious reaction to the same by the devotees, especially women, who are protesting against the forceful breaking of the tradition.”

The RSS had called upon all the stakeholders, including spiritual and community leaders, to come together to analyse and address the issue availing judicial options and convey their concerns about their right to worship in a manner which best suits their culture of devotion, to the authorities in a peaceful manner.

Meanwhile, some sources close to Sangh had also circulated another statement which was almost a U- turn from the RSS stand, on October 3. Soon, the organisation in a tweet termed the statement as fake.

Thousands of devotees across the state, mainly women, had raised their protest in public on October 2.
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