Despite the perception that Sabarimala issue was the reason for the Left Democratic Front’s drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls in Kerala, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said his government did not intend to change its stand and would continue to protect women's rights.
As the opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), which won 19 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats, sought to taunt him in the Assembly over the LDF's poor showing, a visibly annoyed Vijayan said if opposing communalism was seen as arrogance on his part, he would continue it.
He was responding to Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala who, during the discussion on demand for grant, said even CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury had offered to resign after the poll debacle.
"The Left had to face a massive defeat. Even Yechury offered to resign yesterday. There is no need for Yechury to express the moral responsibility that our Chief Minister does not have. Even after the defeat the chief minister has been behaving like nothing has happened," the Congress leader said. He also said the Congress' thumping win was also the "victory of secularism.”
Chennithala said his party would make a legislation to protect the rights of devotees if it comes to power in the next assembly polls. Kerala had witnessed massive protests after the LDF government decided to implement the September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court allowing women of menstrual age to offer prayers at the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala.
The state government had also lined up a 620 km long human wall of women across the state on January 1 this year to uphold gender equality and to protest gender discrimination. In his remarks in the assembly, Vijayan defended his government stand on the Sabarimala issue and said it will not remain a mute spectator if the rights of women were violated.
"What we did was accepting and implementing the court's order. If the rights of women are being violated, we cannot stand and watch. We will take strong action against such violations," the Marxist veteran said. Political observers had attributed the LDF's rout to the "arrogant attitude" of Vijayan, who took a strong stand in implementing the Supreme Court's verdict, rejecting appeals for filing a review petition.
"We saw the communal forces running amok (during Sabarimala protests) in the state. They wanted a docile government which will listen to their agenda. We strongly opposed them. I stood strong to fulfil the responsibility vested in me. If this is arrogance, I will repeat it," Vijayan said.
The chief minister, while reacting to the poll outcome last week, had rejected suggestions that the Sabarimala issue was the reason for LDF's dismal showing and claimed many had voted for Congress expecting it to form the government at the Centre.