First it was the Kerala government’s ‘salary challenge’ to aid the flood victims that courted controversy only a few months ago. Now, the government’s move to set up a ‘women’s wall’ is in the news for the wrong reasons.
Suffice it to say that there are no halfway measures for the LDF government as the chief minister believes in taking an unequivocal position on most issues, unmindful of the dust it kicks up. So, when the ‘women’s wall’ gets erected on the very first day of 2019 stretching from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram, the LDF government would have once again thrown down the gauntlet.
While the government sees it as a show of strength, its detractors see it not only as yet another act of obduracy by the chief minister but also as a highly avoidable controversy that should have been handled much better by his jumbo team of advisers. In hindsight, even those aligned with this team agree that the salary challenge ran into rough weather as the public at large perceived it as an authoritative move to collect money at a time when many government employees were wilfully contributing to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The challenge took an embarrassing turn when the judiciary intervened.
Now, it is widely felt the wall has been forced on many organisations that see little relevance in this gesture, so late in the day, supporting the entry of women of restricted age into Sabarimala. Yes, the wall is to demonstrate Kerala’s secular and progressive mindset.
Around three million women are expected to build the 600-km-long wall. To ensure there is no meltdown in resolve, organisers are running helter-skelter, laying down the ultimatum to the likes of Kudumbashree and NREGA women workers to turn bricks on the wall. There are reports that funds for the wall are being forcefully collected even from pensioners. Some things are best done voluntarily and the wall is one such.