The CPM’s expression of regret for hurting the sentiments of devotees over the incidents that took place at the Sabarimala hill shrine after the Kerala government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court decision on allowing women entry reflects an attempt to woo back voters alienated from the party. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the LDF faced a near wipeout, winning just one of the state’s 20 Lok Sabha seats.
With the 2021 assembly elections poised for a close finish, the statement by state Devaswom minister and senior CPM leader K Surendran reflects concern in the party that the Sabarimala sentiment could make a return. Even the argument that the government was merely implementing the SC judgment had cut no ice with those opposed to women’s entry into the temple. At another level, it also reflects the narrowing space for progressive politics even for Leftist parties, which are usually the most vocal for women’s rights.
Also read: CPM regrets ‘hurting sentiments’ on Sabarimala
Another feature of the mobilisation against women’s entry was the large presence of women opposing the government and agitating for protection of traditions and customs. With both Congress and BJP and caste organisations and even minority groups criticising the government for intervening in religious matters, CPM was on a weak wicket. Having recovered lost ground in the recent civic body polls, the big question is whether LDF’s attempt to shut out the Sabarimala issue will find takers among the electorate.
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