The day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to a woman judge’s dissenting order on Sabarimala, his party colleague and Dalit Lok Sabha MP struck a contrarian note. Welcoming the entry of two women in the shrine early Wednesday, Udit Raj said that he wanted women to enter the shrine as “a majority of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Ambedkarites have backed the Supreme Court verdict lifting the ban on menstruating women’s entry.”
“Why should women be banned to enter the Sabarimala temple? Both genders are equal before God, God does not reside in one particular place. He is omnipresent and women are everywhere. Then is it not impossible for God to stay away from them?” asked Udit Raj.
Clarifying that it was his personal view, Udit Raj told The Indian Express: “Men also have come from women. Then if women are impure, how can men be pure?”
Asked about the fact that several BJP leaders, including the Prime Minister, have cited tradition to object to the Supreme Court’s order lifting the ban on women’s entry, Raj said: “Traditions, if they are bad, are to be broken. Did we not oppose and end child marriage, Sati and the tax on covering breast for women in Kerala? Traditions, if they are redundant, have to end.”
Raj said that as chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations, he would oppose attempts against the implementation of the apex court order. “Majority of SCs, STs and Ambedkarites are supporting the court order. They have welcomed it,” he said.
“When all men are equal before God, how can you have discrimination in the name of gender and caste?” said Raj. “Such bans are results of Brahminical dominance.”
Raj represents North West Delhi constituency in the Lok Sabha.
The PM, in his interview to ANI, indicated that he backed the BJP’s official stand that women should not be allowed entry into the Sabarimala shrine. Asked why had the BJP brought an ordinance to make triple talaq a criminal offence after the SC order but had disagreed with the court verdict on Sabarimala, Modi said these were two different issues. Maintaining that triple talaq issue was an issue of gender equality and social justice, Modi said: “In India, we respect all religions. Every temple has its own customs and traditions, there are some temples in India where men cannot enter. The judgment by the woman judge (in SC) should be read carefully. No need to attribute this to any political party, she has given that order looking at the issue as a woman. There has to be a debate on that also.”
Justice Indu Malhotra, the only woman in the five-judge bench that ruled women of all ages must be allowed in the temple, had said courts must not interfere with issues concerning “deep religious sentiments”.