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Kerala bypolls: Nair community's stand a boon for UDF?


NSS headquarters in Changanassery


Thiruvananthapuram: On the eve of five assembly by-elections in Kerala to be held on Monday, the political stand taken by the Hindu-Nair community's social organisation - the Nair Service Society (NSS) on the issue of protecting faith, has turned out to be a boon for the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

NSS supremo N. Sukumaran Nair in a statement said neither the Centre nor the state had taken any positive stand on the issue of faith in the Sabarimala temple row.

"Both of them did nothing for the believers and hence we are forced to take a stand in the upcoming by-elections. But there is a misconception that's being propagated that our only issue is the entry of women into Sabarimala temple. We are also against the manner in which, in the name of renaissance, a divide was created between castes and communities," said Nair.

The NSS has been up in arms against the Pinarayi Vijayan government which did not think twice when it came to implementing the Supreme Court order that allowed entry of menstruating women into the Sabarimala temple.

And to buttress this stand, in the name of renaissance, early this year Vijayan called a meeting of the representatives of numerous castes and communities in the state and organised a 'Women's Wall', mainly meant to get support for opening the Sabarimala temple to all women, the NSS said.

"Today the Kerala government is handing bouquets to one section and brickbats to another. There is a misnomer that none in our community takes us seriously and our members will not listen to the leadership. But this is far from the truth, as all those who respect the NSS have always listened to us," said Nair.

But defending their position, State CPI-M secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said they are never against faith or believers.

"If one takes into account the number of people visiting Sabarimala, CPI-M followers would be the largest. NSS have all the freedom to take a position during elections, but we are not against faith or believers," said Balakrishnan.

The NSS is angry with the BJP as well. The BJP, which organised the protests on Sabarimala and was hoping to reap the political dividends, did not get the support it hoped for from the NSS.

They never took any interest to bring out an ordinance on the issue of faith, the NSS said.

Former Mizoram Governor and senior BJP leader Kummanem Rajasekheran has now been roped in to placate Nair as he said, that on the Sabarimala issue, they were the ones who did the maximum to see that the temple's traditions and culture are protected.

However, Chief Electoral Officer Tika Ram Meena expressed his ire and said that no one can canvass for votes in the name of caste, community or religion and if anyone is found doing that action will be taken. He is yet to get a complaint in this regard.

According to the census, out of the 3.34 crore Kerala population, Hindus constitute 1.82 crore, of which the Hindu-Nair population is second to the Hindu-Ezhava's.

Of the five assembly constituencies, four were held by the UDF and one by the CPI-M.

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