Zalgiris Vilniu vs Lietava Jonava

In the beginning of summer 2006, Arun Jaitley, then BJP general secretary, was having a chat with journalists in the congested media party headquarters at 8, Asoka Road in New Delhi. A journalist from Kerala asked hall of the him about the party’s prospects in the state’s Assembly elections due in May that year. Jaitley pointed out that the main political party in the state, the CPI (M), in spite of its Communist ideology, was “basically a Hindu party”, and that the BJP’s task was to overcome that image.

Twelve years on, the Sabarimala agitation provides the BJP with an opportunity to become the representative of the “apolitical” Hindu sentiment in the state. The verdict by the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench to allow women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple has thousands of devotees up in arms in India’s most literate state. Women in large numbers have hit the streets with chants of ‘Saranam Ayyappa’ demanding that women of all ages shouldn’t enter the temple.

In the beginning of summer 2006, Arun Jaitley, then BJP general secretary, was having a chat with journalists in the congested media hall of the party headquarters at 8, Asoka Road in New Delhi. A journalist from Kerala asked him about the party’s prospects in the state’s Assembly elections due in May that year. Jaitley pointed out that the main political party in the state, the CPI (M), in spite of its Communist ideology, was “basically a Hindu party”, and that the BJP’s task was to overcome that image.

Twelve years on, the Sabarimala agitation provides the BJP with an opportunity to become the representative of the “apolitical” Hindu sentiment in the state. The verdict by the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench to allow women of all ages to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple has thousands of devotees up in arms in India’s most literate state. Women in large numbers have hit the streets with chants of ‘Saranam Ayyappa’ demanding that women of all ages shouldn’t enter the temple.

The original statement from the RSS HQ that welcomed the verdict had put the BJP in a tough spot. The Congress high command held the same view citing gender equality, but the local unit led by state Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala threw in their lot with the agitating segment of devotees, and it even lashed out at the apex court judgment, all the while maintaining there was no mismatch between what is said in New Delhi and what is being done i Kerala.n

The original statement from the RSS HQ that welcomed the verdict had put the BJP in a tough spot. The Congress high command held the same view citing gender equality, but the local unit led by state Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala threw in their lot with the agitating segment of devotees, and it even lashed out at the apex court judgment, all the while maintaining there was no mismatch between what is said in New Delhi and what is being done i Kerala.n

In damage control mode, the BJP quickly issued a statement in support of the devotees, while its cadre joined the protest on ground. Protesting against the CPM-led government’s decision to implement the apex court order with immediate effect, the BJP launched a massive yatra from Pandalam, the erstwhile ‘kingdom of Ayyappa’. Covering 97 km, the yatra reached Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.

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