Days after Amit Shah said he stands with Sabarimala devotees, Rahul Gandhi takes the opposite stand

Rahul Gandhi also acknowledged that his personal views on the matter are different from that of his party's Kerala unit.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on Tuesday, said that all women should be allowed inside the Sabarimala temple.

Speaking in Madhya Pradesh, Gandhi acknowledged that his viewpoint differs from that of his party workers who represent the sentiment of the people of Kerala. He said, “My opinion is different from that of my party on this issue. My party represents the feelings of the people in Kerala. However, my personal viewpoint is that all men and women are equal. The women should be allowed into Sabarimala temple and they have the freedom to go everywhere”.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan welcomed Gandhi’s statement and called the stand of the Kerala unit of Congress as unfortunate. “It is unfortunate that the Congress in Kerala does not have the same opinion as that of the party’s national leadership on the subject,” he said in a Facebook post.

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Gandhi’s statement comes on the day when hundreds of BJP workers staged a “hunger strike” in front of the state police chief’s office in Thiruvananthapuram protesting the LDF government’s decision to implement the Supreme Court order allowing the entry of women of all ages inside the Sabarimala temple. The BJP has also announced that it would be taking out a ‘Rath Yatra’ from Kasargod to Pathanamthitta, from November 8 to 13 to “save the customs and traditions” of the hill shrine.

On Oct 27, the BJP president, Amit Shah in an address at Kannur, Kerala, had come out strongly in support of Sabarimala devotees and criticised the Left government’s handling of the matter. He also condemned the arrest of devotees. Shah had assured that karyakartas of the BJP will be standing beside the devotees of Lord Ayyappa like a rock in the battle to defend the tradition of Sabarimala.

The Kerala police had heaped atrocities on the protesting devotees arrested around 2000 devotees and had registered 450 cases against them as on Oct 26.

Many have tried their best to turn the Sabarimala flashpoint into a ‘women’s rights’ issue when it is actually about the right to pray and preserve traditions. They have misrepresented facts to insinuate that all women were disallowed whereas only women from the ages of 10 to 50 were not allowed to enter the temple. The devotees have been fighting for their right to preserve their tradition and have insisted that ways of Abrahamic religions where one rule prevails should not be imposed on a diverse religion like Hinduism where every temple and every deity has a different set of traditions, for example, there are some temples where men are also not allowed to enter.

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