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Will they, won’t they? Sabarimala pilgrim season opens amid confusion over women’s entry

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The all-party meeting convened by Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss the Sabarimala issue failed to yield a consensus, reports The Hindu.

The temple, at the centre of a row over the Supreme Court order allowing women of all ages into the sanctum sanctorum, opens for a two-month-long pilgrimage season Friday.

Hindustan Times reports, “A suggestion by Vijayan that certain dates be reserved for only women to worship at the hilltop temple, including those in the reproductive age, whose entry into the shrine is opposed by traditionalists, also had no takers.”

The story finds no mention on The Times of India front page.

However, the preceding flap has a short introduction on the impasse that leads to a detailed report inside.

Under the headline “Kerala govt U-turn on Sabarimala”, the paper reports, “The Kerala government gave its nod to the Travancore Devaswom Board on Thursday to pursue the possibility of obtaining permission from the SC to delay the implementation of its verdict allowing entry of women of all ages to Sabarimala, hours before the temple opens.”

Leading business daily The Economic Times has announces in the lead of its flap “FM Arun Jaitley to be Star Speaker at ET Awards”.

It reports “…India is at the beginning of the election cycle that will culminate in general elections in 2019. So, what the FM says at the ET Awards is guaranteed to be a hugely significant articulation of the Narendra Modi government’s views on everything that really matters.”

Last year, in March, the Prime Minister cancelled his scheduled appearance at the ET Global Business Summit at the very last moment. His Cabinet colleagues also excused themselves from the summit.

Last week, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sacked its Uttarakhand general secretary (organisation) Sanjay Kumar following a complaint of sexual misconduct against him. The complainant has narrated her side of the story to The Indian Express. According to her account, the paper reports, “the party leader had tried to kiss her forcefully twice, grabbed her several times and used to send her ‘vulgar’ photographs”.

The victim “…had complained several times to other party leaders about Kumar’s behaviour but was ignored”, it adds.

The paper also quotes her as saying that a BJP leader told her “…being sexually involved with male politicians was common for women entering politics”.

Within hours of the Maharashtra Backward Class Commission submitting its report on the social, educational and economic conditions of the Maratha community, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis “asked it to prepare for celebrations on December 1, instead of agitations”, reports Hindustan Times on Page One.

The Hindu reports on Page 10, “Reiterating his promise of resolving the Maratha quota issue within the next fortnight, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday urged the Maratha community to get ready for celebrations on December 1 instead of gearing up to launch fresh agitations against the State government.”

Meanwhile, reporting on the latest RBI numbers, The Indian Express writes, “While the Reserve Bank of India said two weeks ago that there is no sign of a liquidity crunch, its own latest data shows that banks’ credit outstanding to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector has seen a contraction for the first time in 14 months in September 2018.”

Lending to MSME has become a bone of contention between the RBI and the union government. Swadeshi ideologue and government nominee on the RBI board, S Gurumurthy, said Thursday, “Indian banks could be recapitalised with government bonds”, hinting that the RBI board meeting Monday is going to be a tough affair, reports Reuters.

The turmoil gripping the UK on account of Brexit negotiations has made its way to the front page. Hindustan Times reports on its front page, “May, maybe not: Brexit row sparks resignations”. The sudden departure of the Brexit Secretary from the Theresa May cabinet sparked a series of resignations, mounting pressure on PM May.

Prime Time

Is Congress ignoring Muslims too?

Times Now anchor Athar Khan sought to discuss whether the Congress is using the same tactics as the BJP, which is accused by critics of being anti-Muslim. The discussion follows a Telangana Congress leader’s threat to quit the party for “overlooking” Muslims in ticket distribution, and the grant of just three tickets to the community in Madhya Pradesh.

BJP spokesperson Shazia Ilmi said, “The BJP is not questioning the Congress methodology; it is the Muslim leaders within the Congress party who are doing so. The Congress has just been using Muslims for electoral gains.”

Political analyst Sumanth Raman said, “The Congress cannot afford to lose Madhya Pradesh. They must win at least two or three states that go to the polls, anything less than that would be a setback.”

Will women be allowed to enter Sabarimala temple?

India Today anchor Preeti Choudhry discussed whether women will be able to enter the Sabarimala sanctum sanctorum when the temple opens for the pilgrimage season Friday.

Saying activists will once again attempt to enter the Sabarimala temple, social activist Trupti Desai added, “If any violence occurs, it will be the Kerala government’s responsibility. We have asked the Kerala government to provide security but they have denied it… It seems that the Kerala government is with the lawbreakers.”

Suneet Chopra of the CPI (M), which heads the coalition in office in Kerala, said the state government will ensure law and order. “The Kerala government is going to implement the Supreme Court;s law and order. The hooliganism is being done by BJP goons.”

News it’s just kinda cool to know

The kilogram is set to be redefined today. Deterioration in the platinum-iridium cylinder, the ‘Le Grand K’, used as the standard for kilogram since the 19th century has led scientists to find an infallible alternative. “Researchers are expected to vote to get rid of it in favour of defining a kilogram in terms of an electric current,” BBC reports.

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