The private Bill moved by N.K. Premachandran, MP, in the Lok Sabha on Friday seeking to conserve the customs and traditions of the Sabarimala temple is being seen more as a political posturing and the United Democratic Front’s bid to put the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in the dock on the Sabarimala issue.
The LDF and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have categorically stated that they are not opposed to the Centre piloting a bill to give a legal backing to the custom and traditions at Sabarimala, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict granting permission for women of childbearing age to enter the temple. However, they have cautioned that it should not be used as an emotive issue for mobilising the faithful yet again.
Law Minister A.K.Balan and Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran have clarified that the government would not oppose such a move but expressed doubts about the Centre’s stance on the private Bill.
When the issue had been tossed up for discussion, the State BJP leaders had initially chosen to skirt it and also attempted to shift the onus on the State government saying it was a State subject. But once the Lok Sabha election campaign touched its peak, the BJP offered to pilot a law in the interest of the faithful.
The current move assumes significance since it precedes byelection in six Assembly seats and the local body general election that is only a year away. In spite of a high-voltage campaign mounted by the BJP against the State government for taking the lead to implement the Supreme Court verdict, it could not reap any gains and the UDF stood to gain without making much effort. The LDF proved to be a loser in the game since a sizeable chunk of its supporters among the faithful drifted to rival fronts. Though the shift is being deemed as transient and the LDF and the CPI(M) are gearing up to regain their support base among the faithful by convincing that they have been misled by the UDF and the BJP, the present move has once again put the LDF on the guard. For the LDF could ill-afford to alienate the faithful on the Sabarimala issue and would have to take a more prudent stance to stem the rot. Whether the Bill would help the UDF gain the desired impact among the faithful depends on the Central government stance and also how the BJP tackles it on the floor of the House, sources said.