LDF govt blunders again on Sabarimala issue

P. Sreekumaran

The Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government has been lurching from blunder to blunder on the highly sensitive Sabarimala issue.
The government has obviously learnt nothing from its past mistakes. The latest faux pas is a list it submitted in the apex court of 51 young women in the 10-50 age group who ‘visited’ the hill shrine after the Supreme Court judgment allowing women of all ages to enter Sabarimala.
It was clearly an attempt to convince the apex court that the government had succeeded in implementing the court’s verdict of September 28, 2018. Out of over 7,500 young women who had registered on line for darshan at Sabarimala, as many as 51 managed to worship at the holy hillock, the affidavit claimed. But, in its eagerness to please the SC, the government submitted a list bristling with glaring discrepancies.
To cite just one example, the list contains the names of two women who actually turned out to be men! In another instance, a man aged 47 had been wrongly listed as a female! There were more such cases, which has caused the government acute embarrassment. Obviously, the government had gone ahead with the list without doing adequate homework. In the process, the Pinarayi government has exposed itself to the charge of perjury and contempt of court.
A jubilant opposition consisting of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP have gleefully grabbed the opportunity to embarrass the government. The government’s act, they opined, amounted to misleading the court and attracted the charge of contempt and perjury.
There was absolutely no need for the government to rush to the court with such a hastily-prepared list. It could have waited for the court to hear the slew of review petitions pending before it. Nor has the apex court asked for such a list. By submitting a list containing patent falsehoods and glaring discrepancies, the government has given the opposition adequate ammunition to attack it in the days ahead.
Ironically, a golden opportunity has come the opposition way to revive its agitation, which has lost steam. In fact, a frustrated BJP-RSS combine is all set to end its relay fast in front of the Secretariat in the state capital because of thin attendance at the fast venue and reluctance of party leaders to undertake the relay fast! The factional strife plaguing the BJP has also taken a heavy toll on the agitation.
In fact, the BJP is at a loss on its future course of action. The agitation will take a new form, claim the state BJP leaders. They are obviously waiting for the congregation of Ayyappa devotees convened by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi. The success of the congregation will infuse new life into the agitation, they argue. 
The saving grace for the government, however, is the SC order directing it to provide round-the-clock security to the two young women who managed to have darshan at the hill shrine. The order came on a petition filed by the duo seeking protection. The court order constitutes a stinging snub to the so-called Ayyappa devotees – trouble-makers recruited by the RSS-BJP, which the ruling party circles accuse of losing no opportunity to resort to violence and use of vulgar language against any young woman who reaches Sabarimala. (IPA)

Thursday, 24 January, 2019