Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah Saturday threw his weight behind the Sabarimala protesters, while slamming the Left-wing state government for 'repressing' Hindu culture and customs by using brute force.
Speaking at a public meeting in Kannur, Shah said, "The BJP will take over the protest of the Ayyappa devotees. We will not mind throwing out the Kerala government if it tries to steamroll the traditions of the Sabarimala temple," said Shah.
Addressing a congregation of BJP workers in Kerala's Kannur district, Shah condemned the massive police crackdown on the thousands of BJP, RSS and right-wing workers who were protesting against women's entry to the Sabarimala shrine.
"These people have booked over 2,600 people under non-bailable sections of the IPC, merely for protesting to protect their religion. I want to ask them, whose property have they vandalised to be charged under such stringent sections," Shah said.
The women's entry to the hill shrine devoted to Lord Ayyappa remains a sensitive issue despite a Supreme Court verdict upholding women's right to enter the shrine and pray there.
The traditionalists argue that Lord Ayyappa devotees, irrespective of their caste, religion or gender are welcome to every other temple, however, the Sabarimala shrine holds a special status owing to the celibate status of the deity worshiped there.
Massive protests were held by thousands of devotees, including women, blocking the way of the handful of women who tried to scale the hill top to reach the shrine in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district. However, the Left Democratic Front government in the state has accused BJP and RSS to bring in their political cadres to amplify the protest and use it to brew law and order problems in the Left-ruled state.
Meanwhile, unflinching in his attack, Shah admitted that BJP workers will continue to stand "rock solid" beside Lord Ayyappa devotees fighting to preserve Hindu traditions.
Pledging to stand like a rock beside Lord Ayyappa supporters, Shah said that he was here to warn the communist government. "The communist government is attacking Lord Ayyappa's shrine, and they are fiddling with the Devaswom board. They are using the Supreme Court's judgment to suppress the devotees," Shah said.
He also claimed that the Hindu religion was inherently respectful towards women, but argued that this was not a battle of gender rights but of protecting one's culture and traditions. "It is not a matter of women's right. Hindu religion is not anti-women," Shah said.
"We have several temples where men's entry is not allowed. Gender parity does not merely comes from entering a temple," Shah said. He claimed that when it comes to women's rights, Hindus have already gotten rid of regressive customs to incorporate higher degree of gender parity in their religion "whether it is widow remarriage, or outlawing polygamy and child marriage", but when it is "a question of our faith, we will stand rock solid beside the Lord Ayyappa devotees".
He also advised the courts to weigh in on the practical aspects of implementation before passing such orders. "I would like to urge the courts and governments also to pass orders that can be implemented," Shah said.
He said: "While those fighting for women's entry are quoting Fundamental Rights under Article 24 of the Constitution, even I have a fundamental right to practice my religion under Article 25 and 26. Then how can one Fundamental Right supersede over another," Shah asked.
He also questioned the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government's motives behind implementing a controversial judgment in such haste. He said that he can quote several judgments by the Supreme Court that could not be implemented due to people's sentiments, including the Jallikattu judgment and the verdict outlawing use of loudspeakers in mosques. "Then why is the government hell bent on implementing this one judgment," Shah asked.
"Kerala is facing an Emergency-like situation, because the Kerala government is exploiting innocent devotees in the name of the Supreme Court judgment," he said, adding that the protesters were not any men brought from outside but the state's subjects and primarily women devotees of Lord Ayyappa, requesting others to uphold their tradition.
Shah was in Kerala's Kannur to inaugurate a new party office. He said that the building holds testimony to the blood sacrifice given by hundreds of BJP workers in the district to protect their ideology. Condemning the political violence in Kerala, Shah said that at least 120 workers got killed in Kannur fighting to protect their ideology.
Terming Kannur BJP's gateway to Kerala, Shah said that no Left government can truly develop the state. He said that Kerala can make progress under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership.
Criticising the state government on several other issues as well, Shah said that Vijayan had no right to remain in power because he failed to provide relief to flood victims in the state. He claimed that the Modi government had launched several development and infrastructural projects for the state, but the chief minister had no time to spare to sort out land acquisition for implementation of these projects.
Shah said that Vijayan was preoccupied by lathi charging innocent women devotees and tribals protesting to preserve their faith.
The BJP chief's visit assumes significance as the saffron party in the state is on the warpath against the CPM-led LDF government over its decision to implement the Supreme Court order allowing entry of women of all ages into the Lord Ayyappa's hill shrine.
A bypoll is also due at Manjeswaram Assembly segment at Kasargod following the death of sitting IUML MLA PA Abdul Razak earlier this month. IUML is a partner in the Congress-led UDF Opposition.
In the 2016 Assembly polls, Razak had won the seat by a narrow margin of 89 votes, defeating BJP's K Surendran. The CPI(M) candidate CH Kunhambu came third.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Oct 27, 2018 17:35 PM