Nairs, Congress duel it out over Chennithala in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 29 (IANS) It was a free for all Tuesday in the war of words between the Congress and the Nair Service Society (NSS), a social movement of the Hindu Nair community in the state.

The difference between the two intensified when NSS general secretary Sukumaran Nair said last week that it would meet Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi and demand that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy be removed if he continues to ignore their demand to make state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala a deputy chief minister.

Chennithala Tuesday told reporters here that it was unfortunate that he was being branded as a leader of the Nair community.

"There is a conspiracy to question my secular credentials. I have clarified that I am not interested in being in this government's cabinet. What Nair said is his opinion. Social leaders should see that they draw a line when making statements," said a peeved Chennithala.

Soon after Chennithala's press conference, Nair told reporters at the NSS headquarters in Kottayam district that his statement was most unfortunate.

"Who is he to ask social group leaders to speak in any particular fashion? Before the assembly polls (April 2011), an agreement was reached that Chandy would be the nominee of the minority community and Chennithala would be the majority community's nominee," Nair said.

The NSS has been up in arms as it has felt that the majority Hindus and Nairs have been left out from plum cabinet and other crucial posts.

The NSS has claimed that a Christian-Muslim alliance is working in tandem to keep the majority Hindu community out of the cabinet.

Meanwhile, Abdul Gafoor - who heads a Muslim education group - said this was a ploy by the NSS to press for the removal of Chandy.

Chandy has kept mum on the issue but his close aides are slamming Nair's remarks.