The controversial Sabarimala issue is going to be a major campaign theme for the upcoming Kerala assembly elections, as far as the Congress-led UDF is concerned.
The ‘Iswarya Kerala Yathra’, flagged off at Kumbala in Kasaragod, indicates that the UDF is trying to woo Hindu devotees who were against the 2018 Supreme Court verdict striking down the customary restriction of women of menstruating age inside Sabarimala temple.
Flagging off the Yathra from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram, former chief minister and Congress leader Oommen Chandy has stated that the UDF will protect the ‘sanctity’ of the hill shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappan.
He said that UDF would submit an affidavit to the Supreme court against the entry of women (of menstruating age) inside Sabarimala temple if the front is voted to power.
The LDF government has given an affidavit that it’s not against women entering the shrine, whereas the UDF has consistently taken the position that customs and beliefs should be protected.
The seat sharing discussions would continue during the yathra led by Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala according to sources. The Congress hopes that the disputes regarding seat sharing with constituent parties would be amicably resolved along with the yathra.
In an indication that the Sabarimala issue will be the ‘trump card’ for UDF in the upcoming assembly election, UDF convenor MM Hassan had stated that they would enact a legislation to “protect Sabarimala” if it’s voted to power. State Congress president Mullappally Ramachandran too has made similar statements more than once.
Rahul Gandhi had welcomed the Supreme Court judgment allowing women to enter Sabarimala in 2019, but had not touched the subject during his recent visit to Wayanad.
UDF leaders who spoke at the inaugural ceremony of the yathra heavily blamed LDF for depicting the Muslim League as a communal party.
On the other hand, A Vijayaraghavan, LDF convenor and acting state secretary of CPI(M), repeated his sharp criticism against the League alleging that the party has been trying to align with fringe elements within the community.