CPM divided on Sabarimala issue, Yechury rejects minister’s apology

Kolkata: CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury addresses a press conference, in Kolkata on April 26, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury addresses a press conference, in Kolkata on April 26, 2019. Photo: IANS

New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Wednesday said he is unaware of the context on which Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran had expressed regret over the 2018 incidents that followed the Supreme Court order, allowing women of all ages to visit Sabarimala.

Yechury defended the CPM and the government’s stand implementing the apex court’s order. He made the observations while attending a TV channel debate, even as his party’s State unit has been trying to prevent the Sabarimala issue from becoming a talking point during the run-up to the April 6 Assembly elections.

Minister Surendran refused to comment on Yechury’s statement, which had prompted UDF and BJP to allege that the CPM has been cheating the believers.

“I have nothing to say. I am now talking about the developmental issues of the constituency,” Surendran, contesting from Kazhakkoottam, said.

Yechury said the government was duty-bound to implement the Supreme Court’s order adding that the Sabarimala issue was not a policy matter. The CPM’s stand is to ensure equality as envisaged in the Constitution. The party secretary need not answer to questions on regional issues, he added.

The Nair Service Society, meanwhile, demanded the chief minister to come out with a statement on Yechury’s stand on Sabarimala.

“The government and the chief minister have the moral responsibility to make clear their stand to devotees, who have the right to know the government’s position in the issue,” NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair said.

Right-wing groups had clashed with the police following the visit of two women of menstrual age at the temple under police protection on January 2, 2019. The latter had arrived at the shrine emboldened by a Supreme Court order of September 28, 2018, allowing women of all age groups into the hill-top shrine.

The Supreme Court ordered the lifting of the ban on women or girls of menstruating age from entering the historic shrine in Kerala, but many devotees and temple authorities protested the move citing the ruling overlooks long-standing traditions.

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