Interplay of the hill shrine of Sabarimala in Kerala, a supreme court judgement allowing young women to enter, Pro-Hindutva activists results in whole country dancing in the tune of religious rights once again. Meanwhile BJP president Mr. Amit Shah's comment unveils already unveiled the fact that the party is nothing but a representative of Hindutva ideology in a supposedly secular country. The protesters have jeopardized the law and order situation of the region and BJP finds it to be one of those rarest opportunities to use their age old, tested election winning mechanism - polarisation.
Let us quickly see the situation in broad spectrum:
The protesters:They are on their way to protect one of the age old unjust prohibition in the name of 'tradition' against women with fertility. These sort of orthodoxy is nothing new and is to be found everywhere. There is no point in blaming the protesters just because they believe SC verdict will defame the sanctity of their tradition.
The politics with faith:With Parliamentary election around the corner Sabarimala temple is a battle for political space in Kerala for the BJP. The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala represents the last bastion of the left rule in the country. Their positions have two important elements, a) they upheld the belief that everyone has equal right to worship and b) it has attempted to upheld the court directives. Most of the national leaderships including Indian National Congress (INC) have projected it to be a 'historic judgement.' With time and rising agitation INC, at least the Keralian form of it started to fumble and INC president Mr. Rahul Gandhi who, by the way, gave some hope against the aggressive masculinity in Indian politics (click here: 1, 2), had to categorically say that he believes men and women possess equal right to worship (click here).
What remains important in fumble INC, aggressive BJP is the fact that "secularism is dead" as Ashis Nandy mentions or at least alien as Romila Thapar mentions.
Gendered world:No doubt, women represent one of the strongest pillars of patriarchy Sabarimala reaffirms that once again (click here). However many young women journalists from CNN -News 18, NDTV, India Today, and New York times were made to step down from their vehicles. Then many young women making attempt to enter into Sabarimala are made to stop by violent means.
The essential element:
No matter what happens with Sabarimala, its a win for those looking for making India a religious country, far away from the concept of secularism whatsoever. It is an attempt to work on the issue of access to a religious institution. Mr. Bijayan, the Chief Minister of Kerala seems to be right as he says "It shows how an RSS mind has formed so firmly within the congress... but they should that if Congressmen join the agitation led by the BJP, tomorrow they will all become the BJP's supporters."
While Mr Rahul Gandhi makes visits to one temple after another, West Bengal sees increasing fall in the number of Left supporters with a subsequent portion of them going towards BJP, it is perhaps time to question the very foundation of secularism of the country once more. Why Sabarimala? Why Sabarimala now?
Perhaps this is the time political parties look at their ideological training parameters which has somewhere gone missing, except for the BJP, they hardly requires any. They easily attach to the existing primordial identity structure.