Lakhs of women from across Kerala are expected to form a 620 km state sponsored ‘Women’s Wall on Tuesday to uphold gender equality in the backdrop of frenzied protests in Sabarimala that effectively thwarted the ruling Marxist led government’s resolve to implement the Supreme Court verdict that overturned centuries old tradition and allowed women of all ages to pray at the Sabarimala temple.
The wall will stretch from Kasargod in the northern tip of Kerala to the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram in the south and the ruling CPI (M) claims 31 lakh women will participate in making the wall. Health minister K K Shylaja will lead the chain at Kasargod and CPI (M) politburo member and wife of former party supremo Brinda Karat will be the last person at the end of the chain in Thiruvananthapuram. In order to ensure the success of the proposed wall, meetings were held at various levels-from ward level to district and constituency level. The participants will gather at the designated centers on Tuesday at 3 pm, where a rehearsal will be held. The Wall will be formed between 4 pm and 4.15 pm, with participants taking a pledge to uphold gender equality. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) has mobilised its workers in strength to ensure that the wall manifests as an emphatic proclamation of its political might on New Year’s Day on Tuesday. The ruling coalition is also using the programme to flex its political muscle ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in May this year.
The proposed wall was suggested at a meeting called by the Kerala government in the backdrop of frenzied protests by right-wing parties and a section of devotees over the state government’s decision to implement the September 28 apex court order, allowing women of all ages into Sabarimala. “Finding a solution to the issues faced by women is seen as part of the class struggle,” Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Monday, adding that ensuring gender equality was part of class struggle. In Marxist ideology, class struggle is the conflict of interests between workers and the ruling class in a capitalist society. “The protests by communal forces against women’s entry in Sabarimala prompted the government and other progressive organisations to build Women’s Wall in the state,” Vijayan had said, adding that all women, cutting across castes and religions, would join the wall “to save Kerala from the being dragged back into the era of darkness.”
The Universal Records Forum, the team which records amazing feats across the globe, is also understood to have reached the state to witness the exercise. The pledge for the women’s wall, which was released by the Chief Ministers office on Sunday, calls for upholding gender equality and renaissance values. It also bats for secularism and to oppose the move to turn the state into a ‘lunatic asylum’.
Though the state government had initially claimed that it would extend all support to the proposed wall, it withdrew the order, allotting funds for it after a controversy erupted. While senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala has described the initiative as a ‘wall of contradiction’, UDF MLA M K Muneer had has termed it as a ‘communal’ wall for inviting participation only from ‘progressive Hindu organisations’.
The government has spared no effort to make the wall a huge success with all ministers given charge of either a district or a particular place for the success of the event. The event is organised by the ruling CPI (M), along with over 176 other socio-political organisations, including the CPI, and organization representing the backward classes. The Nair Service Society (NSS), a prominent upper caste-based organization, RSS and the right-wing groups have opposed this move and formed Ayyappa Jyothi (lighting of sacred lamps) across the state on December 26 to counter it. Many prominent personalities from all spheres of life are expected to take part in the event.
—India Legal Bureau