Changanassery: NSS General Secretary G Sukumaran has clarified that the stance of NSS towards parties in the upcoming Lok Sabha election will be one of equal distance from all parties and fronts.
In the editorial of the latest issue of NSS organ 'Service', he explained that NSS by and large stood equidistant from political parties in the past, with past deviations towards a 'right distance' only in exceptional circumstances to fight injustice and for social justice.
Sukumaran Nair laments in the article that on the issue of women's entry into Sabarimala, the central and state governments were not prepared to take any steps for maintaining the traditions of the temple, and as such the only course open before believers is through courts.
He criticised the state government that it in a unilateral move to crush belief in god and the rites and traditions, in the name of Sabarimala. The government also tried to defeat the agitation against it initiated by NSS using the government fund and force.
However, both the Congress and BJP tried to make political capital out of it. In the case of BJP, it kept out of the legal fight and focused on agitations to stop women's entry into Sabarimala, whereas the Congress took some legal steps and organized protests.
Nair's comments in the journal has given some consolation to UDF in the background of the speculation that BJP would garner NSS votes on the back of its track record in the Sabarimala agitation. However, with the NSS criticism of the Central government for its alleged inaction on the women's entry issue, and the reiteration of NSS keeping equal distance with parties, the BJP is despondent that its dreams of cashing in on the Sabarimala devotees' issue may not materialize, in any case not through NSS.
The calculations of BJP had gone to such an extent that its state president PS Sreedharan Pilla had even prepared to contest the Pathanamthitta seat pinning hopes on NSS backing, and had informed Sukumaran Nair about it too. However, following the faction fight within BJP, Sreedharan Pilla was excluded from the candidate list, and his place was taken by K Surendran who did not belong to the Nair community.
Other factors are also believed to have led to an NSS change of stance. Thushar Vellappally, son of SNDP secretary general Vellappally Natesan, getting prominence withinn the BJP-led NDA was sour to the NSS leadership. Further, the fact that Rahul Gandhi is contesting from Wayanad and sought NSS support, also led to the NSS was slowly moving back to its pro-Congress leanings, in the name of equal distance.
Besides, the presence of AK Antony and KC Venugopal, both of whom enjoy the confidence of NSS, holding crucial leadership positions in Congress, and absence of such trustworthy leaders in BJP, are also believed to have influenced the NSS position.