With the Sabarimala issue taking centre stage once again in Kerala, the war of words has intensified between political parties and other groups. In a bid to placate the Nair Service Society that has been a staunch critic of the government over the issue, CPI(M) leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said on Saturday that he would not call the NSS as opportunistic.
“Some organisations have a clear stand, like the NSS. I dont think their stand is opportunistic, they have stuck to their stand,” Kodiyeri said addressing a campaign rally.
Kodiyeri’s speech comes a day after CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran and NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair locked horns. While Kanam Rajendran said that NSS had lost the legal battle, NSS called the statement misleading.
“He is accusing the NSS of lining up people against the government upon losing the case. This itself suggests that the case has not yet been settled,” Sukumaran Nair said.
After the apex court in 2018 ruled that the temple should be open to women of all ages, lifting the bar on entry of women aged 10 to 50, the Vijayan government floated a renaissance movement, which came under criticism by the BJP, Congress, NSS and others.
The temple town then became a battle ground after believers in large members resisted attempts by the police to take women in the hitherto banned age group.
At that point of time, CM Pinarayi Vijayan and his party stressed that all they did was to abide by the apex court verdict.
However, in his address to the media on Thursday, the CM said that the matter of the Sabarimala temple is before the apex court and once the verdict comes, they will discuss with all concerned and then only decide what needs to be done.
Incidentally, state Devasom Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who is contesting from his sitting seat at Kazhakootam, had after beginning his campaign, expressed regret at what happened at the temple town.
It was these statements that riled the NSS and its General Secretary Sukumaran Nair who on Thursday slammed Vijayan, saying that he is taking the people for a ride.
"Vijayan all along then said they are duty-bound to implement the verdict and now he says, when the new verdict comes, he will discuss it with all concerned. He is taking people for a ride. Wish to know what his real stand is," he said.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said if Vijayan has any shame left, he should immediately apologise to the people and say that their stand then was wrong.
"Kadakampally Surendran has by now apologised, but Vijayan is silent, while (CPI-M chief) Sitaram Yechury says their stand remains the same. Vijayan should first step down from the role of the renaissance leader. He is only taking the believers for a ride," he said.