Observers: India temple protest support a bid for votes

Observers: India temple protest support a bid for votes
Protestors who are opposed to allowing women of menstruating age from entering the Sabarimala temple chant devotional hymns as they gather at Nilackal, a base camp on way to the mountain shrine in Kerala, India, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. The historic mountain shrine, one of the largest Hindu pilgrimage centers in the world is set to open its doors to females of menstruating age following a ruling by the country's top court. Police arrested some protesters when they tried to block the path of some females. (AP Photo)

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s ruling party and the main opposition are both supporting a protest to keep females of menstruating age from entering one of the world’s largest Hindu pilgrimage sites, in what some political observers say is a bid to shore up votes ahead of next year’s general election.

Busloads of Hindu women have traveled to the Sabarimala temple in the southern Indian state of Kerala since a Supreme Court ruling opened it to them this week for the first time in centuries.

The court said prohibiting women aged 10 to 50 was unconstitutional.

However, throngs of male devotees mobbed their vehicles to prevent them from entering the temple.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has been trying for years to gain a foothold in the south.