KOCHI: Though it was the BJP that launched a strong agitation against the government’s stand on women’s entry at Sabarimala temple, it was the UDF that reaped the benefit. The BJP had launched a state-wide agitation, observing a series of hartals, protesting against the government’s stand of facilitating the entry of young women to the hill shrine with police protection.
Around 40,000 party workers were arrested in connection with the agitation which kept the state on the boil for the entire Sabarimala season from October 16, 2018, to January 15, 2019. Meanwhile, though the Congress workers did not try to stop young women from entering the temple, the party leadership in the state had declared it will stand with the devotees.
Former Travancore Devaswom Board president Prayar Gopalakrishnan and Congress candidate in Kannur constituency K Sudhakaran led the Congress protest by holding a dharna at Nilakkal near Sabarimala.
Congress leaders, Oommen Chandy and Ramesh Chennithala, held a dharna at Pampa violating prohibitory orders. The party had engaged senior lawyer and prominent leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi to argue the case in the Supreme Court. Though Congress president Rahul Gandhi had openly declared he was in favour of women’s entry at Sabarimala as it is an issue of gender equality, the party leaders in the state were able to convince him about the sentiments of devotees. Rahul later said the party in Kerala was free to take its own stand in the issue.
“The poll verdict has served as a strong warning to the CPM. While a section of the devotees supported BJP, helping it increase its vote share, neutral voters favoured UDF. Many CPM supporters have voted for the Congress to register their protest. We hope the CPM will learn a lesson from this defeat,” said Hindu Aikya Vedi state president K P Sasikala.