LDF, NSS spar over Sabarimala

CM says NSS’s position raises suspicion, Nair reiterates equi-distance

As the Assembly polls are nearing, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Nair Service Society (NSS) appear to be slugging it out in a conflict of narratives over the Sabarimala issue.

The latest round of battle was triggered by a recent statement by Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran purportedly expressing regret over the developments in connection with the entry of women at the temple. With both sides determined to fight their corner, what seemed certain was that this war of words would intensify in the run up to the election.

After a cold war of words, the sparring between the two sides hit a crescendo on Wednesday when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed his displeasure over the relentless criticism by the community organisation on the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government. Asserting that the NSS’s position indeed raised some suspicions, he even asked the media persons to find out the reason with its general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair.

No issues with NSS

“The common people have an opinion on how the NSS looks at the government. It is up to Mr. Nair to take notice of this. I have no issues with the NSS and so does the State government,” Mr. Vijayan said. Joining Mr. Vijayan in this round were two Ministers in his Cabinet, M.M. Mani and K.K. Shylaja, who also sought to question the political motives of the organisation.

Equi-distance policy

The NSS, on its part, saw these remarks as essentially oppositional that forced a reply. In a statement, Mr. Nair reiterated its long-held policy of equi-distance to all political parties and also warned against any attempt to intimidate the community organisation.

According to the NSS, it has forwarded only three demands for consideration of this government. They were to adopt a stance in support of the Sabarimala devotees, implementation of 10% reservation for economically weaker sections among the upper castes, and the declaration of Mannam Jayanti as a holiday under the negotiable instruments act.

Of these, people know where does the Sabarimala issue stands currently. Regarding the reservation issue, the EWS are yet to avail themselves of the benefit of the policy due to the delay in publishing the list of beneficiaries. On the Mannam Jayanti, the government has simply dismissed all the petitions submitted by the NSS. “Let those criticising the NSS of pursuing political agenda explain the political angle of these three demands,” noted Mr. Nair.

While asserting its commitment to stay apolitical and even deriding attempts by the LDF’s rivals to politicise Sabarimala for electoral gains, the NSS has also been successful in keeping the women entry issue live in the run-up to the upcoming elections. As to whether it will have an impact on the final results as in the Parliament elections of 2019, however, remains to be seen.

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