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Not Just Kerala, RSS Wants BJP to Capitalise on Sabarimala Row in All Southern States

The Sangh feels that Lord Ayyappa can help the BJP win a good number of seats in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Even though BJP is strong in Karnataka, the RSS wants BJP to encash Sabarimala issue there also.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:November 16, 2018, 10:34 AM IST
Not Just Kerala, RSS Wants BJP to Capitalise on Sabarimala Row in All Southern States
File photo of protesters opposing the entry of women to the Sabarimala Temple. (Photo: PTI)

Bengaluru: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh thinks the BJP can breach the southern fortress through Sabarimala route and has advised the saffron party to organize Ayyappa devotees at booth level ahead of the Lok Sabha elections due early next year, said sources in the organisation.

The Sangh hopes that the SC decision to throw open the doors of the temple to women of menstruating age may actually open the doors of southern states, except Karnataka, to BJP where it is still a marginal player.

South India "baithak" of the RSS held at Mangalore discussed the Sabarimala issue at length and has concluded that it is a great opportunity for the BJP to strengthen its base across south India.

According to local newspaper reports and Sangh sources, the outfit’s leadership advised BJP national president Amit Shah to ask party cadre to take up Sabarimala issue in a big way. Besides Kerala, the highest number of Ayyappa devotees are concentrated in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Over 70% of the Ayyappa devotees are from these three states and almost every village has at least half a dozen hardcore Ayyappa devotees. Over 80% of the devotees are from socially and economically poorer backgrounds. Many of them are from the labour class or lower middle class and they belong to all castes and creeds.

An RSS source revealed that BJP was asked to focus on impressing "Guru Swamys" - the senior Ayyappa devotees who give offerings to juniors - about the party's stand on entry of women into the temple and why it was opposing it.

"Ayyappa devotees are a tightly knit group. They are from all classes and castes. They are also from all political affiliations. The only thing which binds them is their firm belief in celibate god Ayyappa and his powers. Naturally they are upset with the SC order allowing menstruating women into the temple. It is easy to unite them in favour of the BJP" said an RSS source.

The BJP has been advised to hold a conference of Guru Swamys in every district closer to Parliament elections, the source claimed. The Sangh has asked the BJP to expose the Left government in Kerala which failed to file a review petition in the SC against the order. It feels that Ayyappa can help them in winning a good number of seats in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and AP. Even though BJP is strong in Karnataka, the RSS wants BJP to encash the Sabarimala issue there also.

"The Congress is also opposing the SC decision in Kerala. It is not just the BJP. We will tell the same to Ayyappa devotees in Karnataka" said a state Congress leader. BJP's Ayyappa strategy may force TDP, YSRCP, AIADMK, DMK and other smaller regional parties in AP and Tamil Nadu to rework their poll plans ahead of the most crucial Parliament elections.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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