Kerala CM slams NSS for double standards on Women’s Wall

Kadakampally Surendran

Thiruvananthapuram:¬†Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Monday flayed caste based outfit NSS for its ‘double standards’ on the Women’s Wall on 1 January, saying they should introspect if it was right for an outfit, which was part of the renaissance movement, to join hands with RSS.

“Those who participated in the ‘Ayyappa Jyothi‘ (lighting of traditional lamp) must self-introspect whether it is right for an organisation, which was part of the renaissance movement in Kerala, to join hands with the RSS. This shows how true they are with their equi-distance policy. This shows their double standards,” Vijayan told mediapersons here.

The Nair Service Society had declared its equi-distance policy, claiming it will maintain an equal distance from all political parties. The had on 26 December supported the ‘Ayyappa Jyothi‘, organized by Sabarimala Karma Samiti against the governments decision to implement the 28 September Supreme Court order, allowing women of all ages into Sabarimala.

The Samiti has RSS and Hindu Aiykya Vedi members in its fold. Following the massive protests against the entry of young women to the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala, the government had decided to organise the 620 km long ‘Women’s wall’ from the northern district of Kasaragode to the southern tip of Thiruvananthapuram on 1 January to demonstrate the state’s “secular and progressive mindset.”

The Chief Minister said the Constitution is based on secularism and those who oppose the verdict of the top court were opposing the constitutional and secular values and basic human rights.

He also questioned the motive of the NSS in opposing the ‘Vanitha Mathil‘ (Womens wall) and asked how they could forget the efforts of NSS founder Mannath Padmanabhan, who had fought against changing various traditions prevailed in Kerala society.

Pinarayi Vijayan

“They are claiming that the fight was against changing the traditions. Can anyone forget the efforts undertaken by Mannath Padmanabhan in opposing certain traditions prevailing in society? He fought against ‘marumakkathayam‘ and changed it, the Chief Minister said. ‘Marumakkathayam‘ literally means inheritance by sisters’ children, as opposed to sons and daughters.

“Children born to a Nair woman and an upper class Namboothiri (Brahmin) never had the right of inheritance. This was changed. All these traditions were changed due to the efforts by social reformers, including Padmanabhan,” Vijayan said.

The Devaswom Board was formed in 1949, he said, adding that in the initial days, the temple was opened only during the Mandala-Makaravilakku season.

“Later this was changed and now the temple is opened during the first five days of every month of the Malayalam calendar. This was a change in tradition and helped reduce crowds there.¬† Nobody had any differences of opinion regarding this,” he said.

“Earlier, breaking the coconut, an offering to Lord Ayyappa, was done at the 18 holy steps. Later this was changed. The most-holy ‘irumudi kettu‘ (sacred bag containing the offering to Lord Ayyappa) is now available as a readymade one. Many traditions were changed there. None had raised any objections then and are now opposing the entry of young women to the temple in the name of tradition, he said.

He alleged that RSS was trying to create a communal divide in society. The “womens wall’ will be a grand success. We hope all those organisations which were part of the renaissance movement in Kerala will take part in the movement on 1 January,” he said.

The Chief Minister also made it clear that no minister can ask women not to visit Sabarimala. He was responding to a question on a statement by Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran that the traditions at Sabarimala need to be protected. “No minister can say that women cannot visit Sabarimala. The government has a clear stand on this and ministers will act accordingly,” Vijayan said.