Thiruvananthapuram: In a complete U-turn, the CPM-led Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala categorically stated pnm Friday that women will not be allowed to enter the Sabarimala shrine during the holy 41-day Mandala Pooja season starting Saturday.
The CPM played second fiddle saying that the Supreme Court decision to refer the issue of women entry to a larger bench has thrown a pall of doubt and unless there is clarity, the government need not support the cause of women.
Vijayan left the issue of talking to the media to his ministers. Law Minister AK Balan reiterated his stand that women who come for darshan will not get any protection from the police.
The stand of the government and the CPM is diametrically opposite to the stand taken last year when they proactively supported women entry and also managed to sneak two women into the temple under the cloak of darkness.
Subsequently, Vijayan went to the extent of organising a ‘women wall’ in the name of progressive thinking.
The government’s U-turn came after it reportedly received a legal opinion on the judgement advising the government not to entertain women’s entry until the Supreme Court issues a final order in the case.
Supreme Court lawyer Jayadeep Gupta reportedly gave this advice after the government approached him seeking further clarification on the judgment.
Minister for Devaswom Kadakampally Surendran told media today that the women who want to go to Sabarimala can approach a court seeking police protection and come to the shrine with a court order on the same.
So far, 46 women in the 10-50 age group have applied online to go to Sabarimala.
In reply to these women, Surendran said Sabarimala is not a place for “women activists to show off their activism.” “Women like Tripti Desai (Maharashtra-based gender rights activist) declaring that they will go to
Sabarimala just want to show their strength and same is the case of other women who make similar declarations. There are also some who want to make a political gain out of it,” he said.
However, the rider by the Devaswom minister that police protection would only be granted to women who come with a court order has put the police in a fix. If they give protection, they will face the wrath of the devotees, if not the wrath of the court.