Congress: Oommen Chandy in action, triggers Sabarimala issue again in Kerala

Sabarimala women entry issue was one reason for the debacle faced by the left-front in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections
Last Updated 26 January 2021, 12:21 IST

Having entrusted with the responsibility of devising strategies for winning the upcoming Assembly polls, senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy seems to have begun his work as he has triggered the Sabarimala women entry issue again apart from meeting Christian community leaders and entrusting Shashi Tharoor to prepare the manifesto.

Chandy on Monday demanded the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala to move the Supreme Court for expediting the hearing on the review petitions against allowing women of all ages to Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. He said that the deep wounds caused to Kerala society by the LDF government by enforcing the SC order allowing women of all ages to Sabarimala need to be healed permanently.

Chandy's statement is being widely dubbed as an effort to trigger the Sabarimala women entry issue again as the issue would put the Left Democratic Front in the defensive. The Pinarayi Vijayan government's stubborn stand to allow women in 10-50 age group to the temple during 2018-19 and police action against devotees who tried to prevent it had triggered strong protests against the government. Even the CPM itself reviewed that Sabarimala women entry issue was one reason for the debacle faced by the left-front in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Ayyappa Dharma Sena leader and a member of the family of Sabarimala tantris (head priests), Rahul Easwar, said that whether Chandy made the statement with political motives or not, the devotees were hopeful that if the Congress came to power they may fulfil the assurance to bring in a legislation to protect the faiths and traditions of Sabarimala temple. He also urged that the cases registered against scores of devotees as part of the stirs against women entry should be withdrawn.

Chandy was also meeting church leaders, which assumes much significance as many Christian vote banks of central Kerala, which had been considered as sure vote banks of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, were found to be favouring the left-front in the recent local body elections.

The other day Chandy met the head of Orthodox faction of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Catholicos Baselios Marthoma Paulose II. The Orthodox faction is quite unhappy with the left-front as the state government was not effectively enforcing the court order granting rights of over 1,000 churches to the faction.

Entrusting diplomat-turned politician Shashi Tharoor to prepare the party's manifesto by talking to a cross-section of people is also learnt to be a strategic move to woo the young voters as Tharoor enjoys considerable acceptability among the youngsters owing to his high profile as well as progressive stature.

Chandy, who was recently appointed by AICC as Election Management and Strategy Committee chairperson, has been a know political strategists. Even the fall of K Karunakaran and A K Antony governments in Kerala in 1995 and 2004 respectively were alleged to be outcomes of Chandy's political strategies.

(Published 26 January 2021, 12:21 IST)

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