I’ve only my community on mind, say NSS general secretary
Despite the political storm gathering over him, Tuesday was like just any other day for NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair — taking stock of the day’s activities with close aides at NSS Guest House, speaking to awaiting persons and then moving to the office room, which he had been using ever since he became the close aide and advisor to his predecessor P. K. Narayana Panicker in 1983. Even after becoming the general secretary, Mr Nair continues to use the same room.
As his mobile phone rings endlessly, reverberations of the open challenge posed to the UDF government on Sunday, are still evident.
“The understanding we had with the Congress national leadership was the key to the last assembly elections when the odds were heavily loaded against the UDF,” says Mr Nair. “The UDF leadership has fallen into the hands of minority community members and this had the potential to polarise the coalition communally. The central leadership wanted to correct this imbalance by bringing in a majority community member into the top power structure,” Mr Nair says referring to the backdrop to the controversial ‘understanding’ he had entered into with Vilas Rao Deshmukh, former Union Minister for Heavy Industries.
“The Chief Minister put the responsibility for the lack of representation on the shoulders of KPCC(I) president Ramesh Chennithala and later, in an interview, denied the possibility of another reshuffle, thus foreclosing any chance of implementing the agreement entered into by the central leadership with us,” Mr. Nair points to the issue that triggered his outrage on Sunday.
“Mr Chennithala was selected by the central leadership and not by us and he was selected as he represented the majority community, not the Nair community,” he says.
With more than three decades at the top echelons of the NSS, Mr Nair has been a close observer and associate in the power play that was enacted time and again behind the curtains. “I have nothing else in my mind other than the interest of my community,” Mr Nair says. “Had I not brought the issue to the public domain now, it would have died a natural death. As long as I hold this position I will continue to speak out.”
Mr Nair says he is not averse to fighting lonely battles. “I joined the organization in 1962 as a clerk in the Education Department of the NSS (he completes 51 years at the NSS this February 1) and became administrative officer, assistant secretary, secretary and came up to this position, all without any help from any godfathers. There are very few who had rose to this position from the ranks.
“My legacy, my education, my whole life has been the NSS and the community,” says Mr. Nair who is deeply religious. But he is not an ardent temple-going devotee; nor is he a visitor to godmen. “My trust in the founding father is total”. Even after becoming the general secretary, he lights the lamp at the Mannam Samadhi daily.
“Unlike others, ours is a community that lost everything on account of the social change, all others have widened their wealth base. Whatever we have built up, is through the income from our own wealth - not from foreign funds or NRI remittances,” he points to the reason for the slow growth of the institutions under his organization, registered as a non-trading company.
Mr Nair says he is ready to take the fight to its logical conclusion. “He is under pressure,”says Mr Nair, referring to the delicate defence put up by the Ramesh Chennithala to distance himself from the raging controversy. “It is too hot for the State leadership of the party to handle the issues I have raised. They will pass the buck to the central leadership. But I am game.”