With the BJP and RSS leading protests against the Supreme Court order to open the Sabarimala shrine to women of all age, BJP national president Amit Shah on Saturday said courts should desist from pronouncing verdicts which cannot be implemented. Shah also accused the state LDF government of using “force on the devotees” to implement the order, and warned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan that “your government will not last”.
In his first public reaction to the Sabarimala verdict, Shah, who began his speech with ‘Swamiya Saranam Ayyappa’ mantra and concluded it by making the crowd shout Ayyappa chants, said, “I want to tell the (state) government and those who pronounce orders in court that you should issue orders that can be implemented, not the ones that break the faith of people… Article 14 (right to equality) is always being cited and appreciated. But there are Articles 25 and 26 which give every citizen the right to follow his faith. How can one fundamental right subsume the other?”
Shah added, “Mein mukhyamantri Vijayan ko chetavani dene aaya hoon. Agar apne ye kuchakra ka daaman bandh nahin kiya, Bharatiya Janata Party ke karyakarta aapki sarkar ki eent se eent baja denge. Aap ki sarkar zyada din nahin chal sakti (I have come to issue a warning to Pinarayi Vijayan. If you don’t stop this cycle of oppression, BJP workers will teach a lesson to your government. Your government will not last).”
Only the Narendra Modi-led BJP can “save” the state, Shah said.
In a statement posted on his own Facebook account, CM Vijayan called Shah’s remarks “an attack on Supreme Court, Indian Constitution and our judicial system”. “The BJP president’s assertion that courts must only pronounce verdicts which could be carried out conveys the message that fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution are not meant to be implemented. These statements of Shah also reveal the true colour of RSS and Sangh Parivar.”
About the threat that his government would not last, Vijayan said, “Amit Shah, who threatened to oust the LDF Government, must remember that this Government did not come to power at the mercy of BJP but with the support of the people of this state. It must also be noted that the BJP leader dared to threaten a democratically elected Government because it stood by Supreme Court verdict and its commitment to protect fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.”
The BJP chief, who was addressing a rally on the occasion of the inauguration of a party district committee office in Kannur, went on to list a number of court verdicts that “had not been implemented”, including on Jallikattu, use of loudpseakers in mosques, a Shia-Sunni dispute over a graveyard in Varanasi, and the height of the Dahi Handi during Janmashtami in Maharashtra. “Why are you after one judgment when there are so many that are not implemented? The governments in this country haven’t dared to implement these orders. So, why is the (Kerala) government enthusiastic about implementing the court order on Sabarimala? The attempt to suppress Ayyappa devotees would be resisted at any cost.”
Shah added that the Hindu community had fought against many social evils within society and embraced changes on its own, be it child marriage or widow marriage etc. But, he said, as the CPM government tries to “suppress” Ayyappa devotees using its oppressive machinery, the entire country would stand behind them. “When it comes to protecting the faith, BJP workers would stand like a rock with the devotees. I want to warn both the government and Chief Minister that the devotees should not be suppressed in the name of the Supreme Court judgment.”
He also alleged that the state LDF government was trying to malign the rituals of Lord Ayyappa and to overpower the temple administrator, the Travancore Devaswom Board. “In the last two days, the state government has jailed thousands of workers of BJP, RSS, the Nair Service Society (a Hindu Nair community outfit) and the Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (an ally of the BJP in Kerala). Most of them have been jailed after slapping non-bailable offences against them saying they had damaged public property. I want to ask the government, whose property had they destroyed?”
The BJP president argued that Hindu religion has always paid high respect to women and never done injustice to them. “Those who want to break traditions in the name of court judgments, I want to tell them, there are different traditions in Hindu religion and there are temples following various traditions. Lord Ayyappa has many temples, everywhere women are allowed. But this place worships Lord Ayyappa as a celibate. There are many temples in this country where only women can enter. Equality does not come with paying obeisance to a deity alone.”
Noting that BJP and CPM workers have often clashed against each other in Kannur, Shah said, “The state has become ground for another phase of strife with forces of devotion on one side and the government’s cruel machinery on the other side.”
Calling the situation prevailing in Kerala as grimmer than during Emergency, he said, “It is against the women who have come out against the verdict that the government has taken an oppressive approach. If a bit of zeal shown for oppressing Ayyappa devotees was used for helping people during the flood, we could say that the Kerala government has discharged its duty.”
In his statement, Pinarayi said, “His (Shah’s) argument that gender equality must not be implemented through temple entry laws is a precursor to the argument that caste based discrimination must not be abolished by law. His ramblings also reveal their indebtedness to the obsolete views of gender inequality propounded by Manusmriti. The civil society, which upholds fundamental rights including gender equality, must rise up against these uncivilized ideologies.”