Congress Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor is wasting time digging up fossilized lexicon like the worthless and of no value ‘Floccinaucinihilipilification’. A Hindu horde is marching on Thiruvananthapuram, his parliamentary constituency, and momentous things are set to happen. There might even be ‘mob violence’ which some say is the ‘bumper-sticker’ for India under NDA rule. Friday morning, police water cannons were pouring water over the LDF government’s resolve to implement the September 28 Supreme Court order allowing women of all age entry into the Sabarimala shrine. Tharoor, who relishes throwing a farrago of flummoxing words at clueless hoi polloi, is an ardent fan of the verdict. Tharoor tweeted ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ last week to introduce his newest book ‘The Paradoxical Prime Minister’. The word means “act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant, of having no value or being worthless.” Tharoor, probably, wanted to make a statement on Prime Minister Narendra Modi but like said Tharoor is wasting time on matters ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’.
Remember, it was Tharoor who warned of the prospect and perils of an India-turned into ‘Hindu Pakistan’ if the BJP continues to rule India. But he was not talking of Sabarimala issue. And now the Sabarimala verdict has roiled the Hindus of Kerala. A ‘Save Sabarimala’ campaign has caught on like wildfire. Devotees of Swami Ayyappa, led by female devotees, all over the state are out in the streets protesting the ruling and a churning is on in the Kerala Hindu milieu not seen since the days of Sree Narayana Guru. Tharoor is all for ‘women’s entry’ into the Sabarimala shrine and that is also the Congress party’s stand but the state unit of the Congress is with the “sentiments of the Ayyappa devotees”, which “cannot be ignored”. The problem for the secular forces is the “issue”, the “deity” and the “female devotees”. If there is any deity that is ‘secular’, it is Swami Ayyappa. His devotees include Hindus, Christian and Muslims. Besides, “not visiting the shrine during their fertile years” is an article of faith with the female devotees of Ayyappa. It is the resolve of the #ReadyToWait female devotees that spilled out in the streets in spontaneous protests which rattled and forced BJP/RSS and the state Congress to switch sides. The CPM-led LDF did not expect the kind of “Hindu unity” seen.
Late attempts to “fix” the problem failed. The Hindu juggernaut has been picking up stragglers all along the way on its ‘Long March’ like a magnet picks up iron filings and the state government doesn’t want violence. Tharoor’s ‘Hindu Pakistan’ comment might have been rhetoric but the explosive mix of the “Hindu cultural revival and renaissance” that Ayyappa Dharma Sena President Rahul Easwar speaks of cannot be dismissed away with derision. Of course, Easwar and his ilk do not talk in stark terms. They camouflage with the rhetoric of “traditions going back millions of years” and “there are forums other than the Supreme Court to consider such issues”. In the process, the allegation that there’s a move to entrench the hold of the “Sawarna castes” on Hinduism is lost in the play of words. Rahul Easwar is a member of the tantric-family of Sabarimala, hereditary “tradition-keepers.”
If there is anything like ‘secularism’ on earth, it’s on test in Kerala. Diluting Article 25 and laying all the eggs in the Article 14 basket seems to have boomeranged. Friday, October 12, 2018, Attorney General KK Venugopal, speaking in his “private capacity”, said the top court failed to get the “pulse of the people” and that he agreed with the dissenting judgement of Justice Indu Malhotra. The Travancore Devasom Board (TDB), which is controlled by the government, has thrown its hands up in surrender. Plans to build ‘ladies toilets’ and ‘waiting places’ for women at Sabarimala have been shelved. The government will not chopper-lift women constables to the hilltop shrine. Sabarimala will remain women-unfriendly. As we move closer to October 17, everything surrounding Swami Ayyappa including the SC order looks rendered worthless, of no value – floccinaucinihilipilification!
Aditya Aamir is a freelance journalist. Views are personal.