Kerala will greet the New Year with the political turmoil over the Sabarimala women's entry issue as the ruling government and the Left Democratic Front is organising a 'Women's' Wall' across the state on January 1.
The wall, basically a human chain from Kasargod to Thiruvananthapuram, will be formed to spread the message of 'renaissance and equality' against the protests going on over the Supreme Court verdict on the entry of women of all ages to the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala.
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While the Left government has decided to implement the verdict, opposition parties including Congress and BJP protesting to pressurise the government to go for a review petition.
Hindutva organisations blocked women who attempted to climb the hill to reach to the sanctum sanctorum of Sabarimala. BJP is still continuing its hunger-strike in the state capital, while Congress almost withdrew from public demonstrations. Meanwhile, the government invited the 'organisations which contributed to the social renaissance movement' (during the first of half of the 20th century) in the state to discuss how to deal with the situation. The 'Wall' is the outcome of this meeting.
However, the programme landed in controversies from day one. 'Hindu Parliament' leader who campaigned against the women entry was made the Joint Convenor of the organising committee. He made several contradictory statements to justify why is he there.
The Hindutva organisations declared an 'anti-women's wall' campaign called 'Ayyappa Jyothi' resembling the 'Makara Jyothi' at the Sabarimala temple. NDA ally BDJS, who opposed the verdict along with BJP, did not join the 'Jyothi' movement and extended support to the 'Wall'.
Prominent 'upper caste' organisation NSS, who also campaigned vigorously against the women entry, supported the 'Jyothi' but its chief's absence hit headlines.
Controversies over expenditure also erupted, as some media organisations reported that the government is funding the programme. The finance minister and CM Pinarayi Vijayan denied all such reports. It was followed by the controversy over the news of 'compulsory attendance' for Kudumbasree workers - a government initiative for women employment - and government staffs. The government denied all such reports and clarified that anyone can participate in the programme.
Pro-Left women's organisation took their turn to criticise the government saying that the organisers of Women's Wall are all men. Some other organisations had their complaint that the government is cheating its people by saying it will give the protection to women at Sabarimala and not letting them visit the temple. Multiple bids to take women to the Sannidhanam were aborted midway due to protests from devotees and Hindutva outfits.
The common question rounds in Kerala on January 1 is: "are you with the 'Women's Wall' or not."