Prime Minister Narendra Modi who arrives here tomorrow evening en route his visit to Kollam, could not have fixed his itinerary better. For, it is Makar Sankranthi day, with Modi addressing a lakh of BJP workers in Kollam around the time when the ‘Makar Jyothi’ glows in the Sabarimala hillocks to mark the peak of the festival season.
Question of faith
Ahead of this, the Prime Minister would have inaugurated a long-pending National Highway bypass at Kollam, a dream-come-true for residents for more than 40 years now. Political observers expect that the auspicious occasion of ‘Makar Sankranthi’ may have just landed the Prime Minister the most opportune time to affirm his as well as BJP’s stand on the Sabarimala issue.
It may be recalled that he has already gone on record, though briefly, saying that this is a question of adhering to traditions and rituals, in a vindication of the state BJP’s stated position. In an interview, he had also pointed to the dissenting note from a sole woman judge on the Supreme Court bench that ordered that the temple doors be thrown open to women of all age groups. The state unit of the BJP-NDA and the RSS have already dropped hints that this would be the main issue as they hit the campaign trail ahead of the Lok Sabha elections due this year. In fact, the national leadership of the BJP-NDA is actively exploring the prospects of reaching out to voters in the other southern states flagging the Sabarimala issue.
NSS congratulates PM
What could make the day memorable for the BJP is a congratulatory note to Modi from the Nair Service Society (NSS) for the 10 per cent quota for economically weak sections among forward communities. According to G Sukumaran Nair, General Secretary, NSS, the previous UPA government had chosen to sit over its letter to this effect for about three years. “This government has come up with a brave decision to go ahead. So the congratulatory note to the Prime Minister acknowledging his gesture was a matter of courtesy only,” he told newspersons.
But Nair’s note goes only to affirm the friendly vibes with the BJP despite the NSS’s ‘equidistant’ policy to all parties, and builds on each other’s mutually respectful stand over the Sabarimala issue. This is in direct contrast with the approach of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam of the state’s backward but numerically significant Ezhava community. Its General Secretary Vellappally Natesan said that the Centre had acted arbitrarily in introducing the Bill, which the SNDP proposed to contest in the Supreme Court.
This is despite Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, its political outfit led by son Thushar Vellappally, being a constituent of the state NDA. The SNDP has been an admirer of the Left Front government’s handling of the Sabarimala issue while seeking to implement the Supreme Court order on entry of women.