By P. Sreekumaran
Kerala is all set to witness a unique event, which could make it to the
The dawn of the New Year in the
state will see the ‘construction’ of a historic 550-km women’s wall, the first
of its kind not only in the country but also in the entire world, from Kasargod
in the north to Thiruvananthapuram in the south. Nearly 55 lakh women are
expected to participate in the event.
The wall is designed to effectively
counter the campaign against the Supreme Court verdict allowing the entry of
women of all age groups to the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple.
The wall is taking place in the
teeth of stiff opposition from both the BJP-RSS combine and the Congress-led
United Democratic Front (UDF).The Saffron brigade had, in fact, organised a
statewide ‘Ayyappa Jyoti’ programme in protest against the SC verdict.
The thrust of the opposition
criticism against the wall is that it seeks to deepen the communal divide. The
government, the opposition alleges, is also misusing government funds for the
successful implementation of the women’s wall programme.
The Pinarayi government has, of
course, dismissed the allegation. The programme is aimed at upholding the
dignity of women and promote the concept of gender equality, besides protecting
the values of the reformation movement.
In a deft move, being construed as a
political masterstroke, the government has managed to enlist the support of the
minority communities. For instance, the Indian National League (INL), which has
just been admitted to the Left Democratic Front, has already signalled its
intent to participate in the event in large numbers.
Likewise, the Jacobite faction of
the Malankara Church has extended full support to the programme. The faction
has promised to ensure the participation of at least one lakh women in the
event. The Jacobite faction has described the event as a positive move from the
government to create awareness on women’s rights.
The enthusiasm shown by the minority
communities has come as a shot in the arm for the government and effectively
blunted the edge of the criticism that it will be an all-Hindu affair.
In another development, which must
gladden the hearts of the women’s wall programme organizers, veteran CPI(M)
leader and former chief minister V S Achuthanandan has supported the programme.
VS, it may be mentioned, had initially expressed his reservations. It was wrong
on the part of the government to join hands with casteist organizations to
organise the event, VS had opined. That he has since changed his stance is a
booster shot for the government.
Meanwhile, the chief minister, in
article published in the media ahead of the campaign, has denied the allegation
that it is in conflict with the concept of class struggle. “The fight against
suppressions based on casteism and those for ensuring gender equality are part
of such class struggles,” Vijayan said.
The growing popularity of the
programme has, undoubtedly, unnerved both the BJP-RSS and the UDF. The harsh
criticism they have levelled against the programme betrays their nervousness. (IPA Service)