Sabarimala — The RSS double-game

The double game being played by the RSS regarding the entry of women to Sabarimala needs to be called out. Being the ultra- conservatives that they are, the Sangh has always stood for maintaining the status quo. But in recent times, when it became almost clear that the court would take a stand favourable to women, they slowly began to change their tone and even went on to say that such traditions should be discarded.

They had sensed that such a stand would aid them when they raise the demand for a uniform civil code, notwithstanding all their cow politics. Such seemingly progressive stands were also an investment for the immediate future, to attract a section of non-sanghi, slightly progressive Hindus and for the far future, when all the conservative opposition would end and family visits to Sabarimala would happen. They could then turn around and say — “Hey, look how progressive we been!”

But, on the ground, they are playing a different game. Most of the BJP leaders have chosen to blame the Left Government for “ruining Hindu traditions”. New Sanghi Whatsapp groups have sprung up in each district to plan protests and spread propaganda against the CPI(M), as if Pinarayi Vijayan is the Chief Justice. It is true that the left in Kerala has been consistent on this issue, right from the time of Achuthanandan Government, which took a stand in the Supreme Court favouring the entry of women to Sabarimala. The Oommen Chandy Government reversed this stand, only for the Pinarayi Vijayan Government to reassert the earlier stand.

This has led to the whole verdict being credited to the left by the sanghis, with an aim to polarise and win a few more votes next election. We are witnessing this amazing scene of the Sangh actually not taking credit for their recent stand favouring the entry of women. And, these are people who are experts at taking credit for even things which are not even remotely connected to them. The online propaganda also brands the CPI(M) and “some Muslims as petitioners in this case. In reality though, it was a group of women lawyers, Bhakti Pasrija, Laxmi Shastiri, Prerna Kumari, Alka Sharma and Sudha Pal, belonging to the Indian Young Lawyers’ Association, who moved a public interest litigation in 2006.

Another false propaganda that the Sangh has been pushing is on the CPI(M)’s stand regarding triple talaq. They claim that the party had supported triple talaq, while standing for the equality of women at Sabarimala. But, a statement issued by the CPI (M) Polit Bureau in 2016 reads thus — “The CPI(M) supports the demand of Muslim women against the practice of arbitrary and instant triple talaq. This specific practice is not permitted in most Islamic countries. Acceptance of this demand will bring relief to affected women.”

The BJP leaders in Kerala have all blamed the Left Government for the verdict, while remaining silent on the RSS’s own stand. Predictably, the statements of Congress leaders like Ramesh Chennithala and Oommen Chandy almost mirrors those of the Sanghis. They have kept alive the legacy of Rajiv Gandhi and other Congress leaders, who have taken such wishy-washy stands when it came to religious matters, of the majority as well as minority communities.

Now, coming to the communal scum called Rahul Easwar, who has even gone to the extent of saying that women who dare to go to Sabarimala will have to walk over the bodies of the “true devotee men”. He has also called for a “Jallikattu-like” protest to pressurise the court. It is clear that Rahul, who cannot survive a day without breathing the air inside one or the other television studio, will not do anything which would cause mud to stick on his clothing. But, he knows that there are enough idiots around who will be roused up enough by such comments to personally go there and stop women. The Sangh knows this too, which is why they are doing this proxy campaign on the ground, through whatsapp groups and social media, despite their stated support for women’s entry.

The kind of messages we have seen on social media from even teenage guys, directed at women who dare to enter Sabarimala, are sickening and shocking. There are rape threats and calls for murder among them. Then there are women like Palakkad-native Baby, of the famous Ayyappan-caused-flood video, who has called for open defiance of the Supreme Court order. More than anyone else, it is this particular set of “believers” who has shamed Ayyappan, by portraying him as a heartless devil who unleashes a killer flood on a whole population just because some women wanted to enter his temple. That claim might seem laughable, but there is a huge section of the population which has fallen for it. The ones spreading it clearly knows this fact.

It is interesting how this practise, of keeping out menstruating women from Sabarimala, which is of a very recent origin, has been ingrained in the minds of the majority as a “centuries-old”, “traditional” practise, ordained by the God himself. This despite there being enough evidence of Rani Sethu Lekshmi bai of the erstwhile Travancore Royal family visiting there, of “choroonu” ceremonies being held there (T.K.A.Nair, former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being one of the babies who had their first taste of rice at the Sannidhanam, with his mother) and even a song from the Tamil film Nambinar Keduvathillai being shot there in 1986, with several women among the crew (video attached). Public memory is certainly short, which is why we need to remind everyone about all of these, time and again.

September 29