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The controversy over the Supreme Court verdict that allowed last September that allowed women of all ages to worship at the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala is expected to take centre stage in the Lok sabha when a bill is to be moved  seeking that the age old customs of the temple be preserved.

The Private Member’s bill is being moved by NK Premachandran, MP from the Kollam Lok sabha constituency in south Kerala, the Malayala Manorama reported this morning.  The bill seeks to bypass the September 28, 2018 verdict by a five judge bench that overturned centuries old tradition that barred women of menstruating age from offering prayers at the temple. The verdict allowed women in the age group of 10—50 to enter the temple, a decision that riled Hindus and Lord Ayyppa worshippers  all around and led to considerable violence in the state last year during the annual pilgrimage season. . Nearly 49 review petitions have been filed against the verdict but the apex court is yet to give a date on when the matter would be taken up. But with another pilgrimage season not too far away, a sense of urgency is slowly creeping in

Interestingly, the bill is being moved by a MP who belongs to the Revolutionary Socialist Party, one part of the Left front but now firmly with the Congress in the United Democratic Front. The Congress and the BJP are on the same page on the Sabarimala  issue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made the Sabarimala  issue a major plank in the recent elections and though the BJP failed to win even a single seat, to the Congress, it was manna from heaven as the UDF won 19 of the 20 seats from the state and left the ruling LDF in the state red faced.

The bill has the potential to become one of the rare private members bills to earn ratification by the house, considering the  brute majority of the BJP and the fact that it has been moved by a Congress fellow traveller .

–India Legal Bureau

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