If the Supreme Court’s shocking verdict had pricked a needle into theists’ hearts, the Kerala Government had only stubbornly and hastily got into the act of aggravating the pain. The ministers from other states not attending the meeting was indeed a big snub to the Kerala Government. The Devaswom Minister’s statement that the absence of others at the conference had nothing to do with the issues related to the Supreme Court judgment is, to say the least, hard to swallow.
The haste and excessiveness with which the government went about arresting those protesting against the court’s decision reaffirms the state government’s stubbornness in sticking to flawed decisions. While people are yet to come to terms with the SC ruling on Sabarimala, we are left to await a hopeful awakening when the review is heard.
Dr M P Sudhakaran, Chittur
The alleged boycott of the meeting on Sabarimala pilgrimage, by the ministers from the neighbouring states, is not to be seen as a snub on the government or as a strategic failure. The meeting was no ‘life and death’ matter and the fact the call to attend the same was spurned by other states is of no serious consequence.
The whole Sabarimala imbroglio is really unfortunate, coming as it is in the aftermath of the great deluge. Public memory is so short the yeoman service rendered by people, especially the fisherfolk, are all relegated to the background. Instead, pettiness, mudslinging, mindless violence and even war cries are unleashed in the name of faith, religious sentiments and spirituality. Let alone the motives, in the Sabarimala issue at least, the LDF Government has a clear-cut stand of upholding the SC verdict. Keralites in their overzealousness to uphold faith have even started glorifying Jallikkattu. What a fall?
S Rajasekharan Nair, Kowdiar
The virtual boycott of the Sabarimala meeting by the ministers of southern states appears to be by design, as they might have been influenced by the orchestrated campaign that the Kerala Government is tenaciously trampling the religious faith of millions. In fact, the government cannot renege on its assurance to the court to abide by the verdict whatever it might be.
The Kerala High Court too has ruled the government has no other option. Deferring implementation is also fraught with the risk of facing contempt of court case. The improper act of non-cooperation by the states seemingly spurred by misguided popular sentiments casts a shadow over the sanctity of judicial pronouncements in a democratic setup. Stakeholders, it is hoped, will accept the outcome of the review petitions without demur, to uphold the supremacy of the judiciary as the ultimate arbiter even in religious matters having constitutional implications.
VENU G S, Kollam
The ministers of southern states excused themselves from the meeting convened by the Kerala CM on Sabarimala temple citing political reasons. The reluctance of the ministers to attend the meeting is viewed as a reaction of these state governments to the Kerala Government’s stand favouring the entry of women of all ages to Sabarimala temple. Millions of devotees from these southern states visit Sabarimala during the Mandala-Makaravilakku season every year.
They are anguished by the SC verdict on Sabarimala which nullified a century-old practice. The Kerala Government’s stand on the issue has added to their apprehensions. Sabarimala issue must never affect the relations between Kerala and the governments of other southern states. The peace, serenity and sanctity of Sabarimala must be restored at any cost. Political parties, religious organisations and the
public must come forward and find an amicable solution to overcome the crisis.
Deepesh V V
There is no doubt the stand taken by the Kerala Government on the Sabarimala issue is against the interests of the devotees. However, the absence of ministers from other southern states in the meeting on Sabarimala arrangements cannot be seen as a deliberate snub on the Kerala Government. The other states have mixed feelings with regard to the issue and they are perplexed whether to protect the law or act in favour of the interests of people.
This is so significant an issue that neighbouring states stay silent so as to avoid any controversy. The Kerala Government’s stand had triggered widespread protests and strict police action. Likewise, if other states decide to support any side, it would definitely result in fair number of revolts and struggles. Therefore, it is sensible to conclude the neighbouring states have taken a neutral stand to avoid controversies and safeguard harmony in society.
V N Mukundarajan, Vattiyoorkavu
The Kerala Government tried to politically legitimise its attempt to suppress popular protests against the SC verdict on Sabarimala by getting the ministers from the southern states to endorse its mindset. But other states were more attuned to grassroots opinion than Kerala was and delivered a well-deserved slap on the face of the Kerala Government by boycotting the meeting.
Elected governments are supposed to be sensitive to popular sentiments, especially on matters relating to faith. For example, Tamil Nadu lost no time in approaching the SC requesting it to modify its order restricting the bursting of firecrackers to the 8 pm-10 pm window because Deepavali is celebrated in TN early in the morning. In contrast, the Kerala government, driven by a hidden political agenda, behaved like a colonial power by unleashing the state police on the protesters en masse and arresting them.
Dr Titus Sankaramangalam, Eraviperoor
It was not a snub. It was absolute cowardice on the part of the errant ministers. The commendable aspect in the Sabarimala case was that CPM took a courageous gender equality stand all throughout. The problem here is, starting from the king of gods Indra, when Hindu gods are traditionally depicted as vulnerable to beautiful women, the concept that a Naishtika Brahmachari like Lord Ayyappa should not be led to carnal temptations holds some water.
The celestial nymph Menaka seducing the great sage Vishwamitra is a story no Indian will ever forget. Customs, rituals and beliefs have some roots. Whether one agrees with the Supreme Court’s verdict or not, it is a fact CM Pinarayi Vijayan took the bull by the horns. To the milksop ministers from the neighbouring states, it was akin to catching the tiger by its tail. So they skulked. That’s all.
Hari Arayammakul, Edakkad
Consensus, and not conflicts, are the ways of democracy and the Kerala Government should have called an all-party meet/special session of the Assembly to discuss the implementation of SC verdict on Sabarimala before convening an inter-state ministerial meet. Although the ostentatious reason was to discuss the arrangements for the upcoming pilgrimage season, the presence of other-state ministers at the meet could be misconstrued for their support to the government’s position.
The aggressive stand of political parties in power in the state and Centre on the matter, the sensitive nature of the subject and its impact on the devotees from their home state could have prevented the ministers from coming. Probably, they might have consulted each other before deciding to send only officials to attend the meet. It’s not a deliberate snub. Our hapless neighbours are playing it safe, as no guest would love to visit an acrimonious house.
K R Parvathy, Wayanad
The Kerala Government is in a Catch 22 situation over the Sabarimala women’s entry issue. It has not only offended the Ayyappa devotees in the state, but also innumerable ones from the neighbouring states, who are regular pilgrims to the shrine. This is evident from the lack of interest shown by ministers to be present at the Makaravilakku review meeting.
There is anger and disappointment over the thoughtless move by the LDF Government, to unilaterally go ahead with its decision to implement the SC order, least bothering to assess the views and sentiments of the devotees in the state. The move by the government has offended the Ayyappa devotees to no end.
Dr N Harimohan
The absence of ministers from other southern states in the meeting on Sabarimala arrangements is a clear indicator the democratically-elected governments in all states, except Kerala, bow to the wishes of the majority. Sabarimala devotees, who know the ethos of the temple, do not agree with the SC verdict. The devotees across the southern states are angered over the undue haste shown by the Kerala Government in implementing the SC order, though it has a long history of doing the opposite in earlier court judgments. The other southern states, knowing the mood of the pilgrims, are sensible enough to ignore Kerala Government’s attempts to enfold them in its chicanery. Even in the meeting attended only by bureaucrats and a Kerala Minister, two officers from the host state left early which showed how much they valued the meet.
Lt Col E P Balachandran, Palakkad
Pilgrims from all over the world visit Sabarimala. Yet, since the majority of the devotees are from southern states, the presence of ministers from those states in the meeting for making arrangements was essential. This time, an unwanted issue has been created and blown out of proportion by the SC verdict, state government, all political parties and others.
The main issue is that the state government, instead of viewing the issue as one affecting the feelings of devotees, chose to look at it through the party ideology of atheism. The absence of ministers from other southern states in the meeting should be taken as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction over the state’s stand. The state’s ruling party may not have belief in god, but the people who visit this shrine hold the rituals in high esteem. It is time the government removed the ‘party glasses’ and wore ‘people’s glasses’ to correct the vision and find an appropriate solution.
Praveen Sankar, Kayamkulam
Kerala Govern-ment regularly holds meeting with the ministers of other southern states with regard to the arrangements at Sabarimala, considering the majority of devotees visiting the hill shrine are from these states. However, the scenario connected with the deliberation was different this year in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict on women’s entry of all ages into the temple.
The temple has always been a cash cow for TDB, accumulating the money as offerings from devotees. Though the ruling dispensation has constitutional obligation to enforce the SC decision, they faced relentless dissent from the devotees. The government should entreat cooperation from other southern states to defuse the predicaments in implementing the judgment as the SC verdict should be complied with.