Meenakshi Lekhi And Shobha Karandlaje, Women MPs Who Supported Sabarimala Temple Traditions, Become Union Ministers
In the Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday (7 July), seven more women have found a place in Narendra Modi's Council of Ministers, taking the total number to eleven.
Among them, while Shobha Karandlaje is inducted as minister of state in the Ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare, Meenakshi Lekhi is made minister of state in both Ministry of external affairs and Ministry of culture.
Shobha Karandlaje is a Lok Sabha MP (BJP) for Udupi, Chikmagalur in Karnataka, serving her second term as MP. The 54-year-old has served as Cabinet Minister in Government of Karnataka, holding various portfolios across Food and Civil Supplies, Power, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj System.
She is a firebrand leader for being vocal on contemporary issues, including attacks on right-wing workers and Hindu communities in coastal Karnataka. She is also BJP's state Vice-President in Karnataka.
Meenakshi Lekhi, a prominent Supreme Court lawyer and social worker, is a Lok Sabha MP (BJP) for New Delhi. Known for her oratory skills, she has served as spokesperson for BJP in the past. As an advocate, Lekhi has taken up women's issues, especially domestic violence, family disputes and Permanent Commission for Women in the Armed Forces in the court.
Interestingly, these two women MPs from BJP have a commonality linked to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Both the leaders had vehemently supported the 'Save Sabarimala movement' that emerged after 28 September 2018 when the Supreme Court of India pronounced its verdict allowing women between the ages of 10 and 50 into the Sabarimala Ayyappa Swamy Temple.
As part of the Save Sabarimala movement, the calls of Swamiye Sharnamayyappa, till then a call of faith and devotion, acquired shades of political dissent and became a battle cry against state machinery that wished to violate the sanctity of a temple that Hindus of Southern India held dear to their heart.
Fondly called 'Shobhakka' by her supporters, Shobha Karandlaje's 'firebrand' classification is often cited in her frequent public remarks supporting Hindutva issues. With the added advantage of being a women MP, Karandlaje played a crucial role in popularising the arguments supporting the traditions of the Sabarimala temple through her social media.
Another MP who supported the traditions of God Ayyappa of Sabarimala is Meenakshi Lekhi. Her fiery speech in Lok Sabha in January 2019, supporting the practices of Sabarimala, put forth the agony of millions of Hindus before the nation. In her remarks, besides pointing out the inclusiveness and diversity in Hinduism, MP Meenakshi Lekhi alleged that feminists who are not devotees of Ayyappa are intentionally attempting to desecrate the temple.
The two women MPs, who supported Sabarimala temple traditions, were given ministership in the Modi cabinet. This development has cheered many Hindus, mainly from Kerala.
"Among 43 new Ministers who will be taking oath, special congrats and prayers from Haindava Keralam to Meenakshi Lekhi ji and Shobha Karandlaje ji for standing with us on numerous occasions when Hindus in Kerala were cornered," a Malayali Hindu organization Haindava Keralam said in a tweet.
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