Controversy in Kerala politics on the statement of Nair Service Society General Secretary G Sukumaran Nair that Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy had subverted the appointment of KPCC President Ramesh Chennithala in a key post in the ministry has taken a new turn with Chennithala and Nair clarifying their stand and other community leaders joining the issue.
Nair had also revealed that there had been a pact between Congress high command and NSS that if a minority member was appointed Kerala chief minister a majority community member would be given an equally important post in ministry to ensure communal balance.
SNDP leader Vellappally Natesan and Dheevara Sabha (organization of Hindu fishermen in Kerala) leader V Dinakaran have come up with support to Nair conditionally. A section of Congress leaders meanwhile have lashed out at NSS for its interference in what they feel as sole prerogative of the Congress. CPM leaders said NSS general secretary’s statement showed that NSS has become an organization of Nairs who work in Congress. Some Nair leaders in Congress said NSS has deteriorated as an organization for raising demands for a single leader (ie Ramesh Chennithala)
Ramesh Chennithala at a press conference clarified that KPCC does not know about a pact with NSS. Chennithala said Nair should not have dragged my name into his statements. Without naming any particular organization, Chennithala said religious and caste leadership in Kerala should not cross the Rubicon while raising their demands. He said he had clarified his stand that he does not want to join Kerala cabinet and there was no change in it. In another very important observation, he said there is an organized move to tarnish his secular credentials. According to him, he was a staunch congressman who had held several important posts in the party in Kerala and at national level.
Chennithala at the same time said Sukumaran Nair has perfect right to publicise his opinions and Congress does not want to attack him on that aspect.
Sukumaran Nair’s clarification
Reacting to Chennithala, Nair said Chennithala was forced to make the statements. He pointed out that the pact NSS made was with Congress high command and not with KPCC.
Sukumaran Nair rejected allegations that NSS had suggested the name of Ramesh Chennithala to Congress High Command. According to him it was high command that suggested Chennithala’s name as a representative of Hindus in Kerala to be posted in a key position to maintain communal balance. NSS in no way raised its voice for a single leader. Nair said no political party has the right to force shut the mouth of leaders of social organizations.
Vellappally said he is of the opinion that if there was a pact between NSS and Congress it should have to be honoured. Where were the Congress leaders who demand restraint from leaders of social organizations when Muslim League demanded fifth minister? He asked.
Aftermath of the controversy
Meanwhile it is evident that Oommen Chandy group in the Congress would fortify its defenses against Chennithala to nip in the bud any aspirations of Chennithala aimed at chief minister post.
Idukki district committee of KSU (student organization of Congress) passed a resolution criticizing NSS and Sukumaran Nair. There had been protests against Chennithala at some places by unnamed groups. It does not seem that these groups are isolated incidents. There is a pattern in the reactions against Chennithala. Suddenly Chennithala’s name has been dragged into a corruption controversy in defense sector in Kerala.
It is likely that Chennithala would also step up his efforts to protect his image and interests. It seems his statement that there is an organized effort to tarnish his image is aimed at reminding those who secretly plan against him that he has realized their misadventure and is powerful enough to thwart such moves. His opponents are likely to include those inside and outside Congress who want to sideline him.
Meanwhile those who want to control the bargaining power of Nair Service Society may devise methods to achieve it. It seems that their usual strategy of Pitching SNDP against NSS may not work this time as Sukumaran Nair and Vellappally are in a need based alliance and may not easily part. It is likely that Muslim League or Kerala Congress (Mani) may not raise their voice against NSS as they are afraid that it would lead to a Hindu unity.
Perhaps there will be a move in near future by anti-NSS force to help Dalit organizations in Kerala form a coalition and raise their demands to curb bargaining power of NSS.