Sudheeran, Sukumaran Nair fail to meet each other at Mannam Samadhi

It was planned as a goodwill visit but turned itself into the first major misadventure of the Congress under KPCC president V.M. Sudheeran.

The visit of the newly appointed KPCC chief to pay homage to Mannathu Padmanabhan, founding father of the Nair Service Society (NSS) on his Samadhi day on Tuesday, was expected to turn a new leaf in the blow-hot blow-cold relationship the two organisations had in the past but ended up in a fiasco as Mr. Sudheeran and NSS general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair failed to meet each other.

According to Mr. Nair, the KPCC president had expressed interest to visit the Samadhi and he had happily accepted it. “He had told me that he would be arriving by 9 a.m. on Tuesday,” he told The Hindu.

Mr. Nair said he usually took his daily dose of medicines at 8.30 a.m. and since the KPCC president was visiting, he postponed it today and waited for Mr. Sudheeran at the Samadhi till 9.20 a.m. As he could not hold on further, he returned to his office for a cup of tea and the medicines.

By this time, Mr. Sudheeran arrived and offered floral tributes at the Samadhi. The KPCC chief was told by one of the director board members that the general secretary had gone to his room and could be called back immediately.

The board member then arrived at Mr. Nair’s room, less than 100 metres away. “Since the offering of floral tribute was over, we thought we will receive him with offering a shawl,” Mr. Nair said. “However, by the time the board member returned to invite Mr. Sudheeran, he and his entourage had already left the place,” Mr. Nair added.

The news channels had by the time broke the news that the KPCC president was snubbed by the NSS. Following this, Mr. Sudheeran, while speaking at a workers’ meet at Kottayam, said he visited the NSS headquarters to participate in the Smadhi Day observance and not to engage in any talk with the leaders.

This angered the NSS general secretary, who retorted that the KPCC president was trying to earn repute by invoking the name of Mannathu Padmanabhan but insulting the NSS and its leadership.

Mr. Nair said the insult they suffered was worse than the one during the P.V. Narasimha Rao incident (referring to the ill-fated incidents in 1995 when the Samadhi was allegedly desecrated by policemen who were in charge of the then Prime Minister’s security).

“He could have either waited for a few minutes to offer floral tributes or waited to accept our invitation for a formal reception,” Mr. Nair said.

“Mr. Sudheeran had visited the NSS headquarters on his own only three times before. They were for seeking our support in three Parliament elections,” he said.

“The NSS had not sought any help from him so far,” he said. According to him, new KPCC vice-president V.D. Satheesan too had sought his personal help during the last elections.

“If I had any intention to bar him from entering the Samadhi, I would have openly said so. We had done so earlier to other leaders and we have no qualms about that,” he said.

Meanwhile, the situation appears to be turning for the worse since Mr. Satheesan made it clear at the Congress workers meet that the party was ready to listen to leaders of social organisations but would not allow them to dictate terms.

No row: Sudheeran

A Correspondent writes from Kattappana: Mr. Sudheeran said religious leaders and political leaders had their own sphere of activity and he did not want to create a row over his visit to the Mannam Samadhi.

“Had anyone told me, I would not have any objection in meeting the NSS general secretary,” he told the media on the sidelines of the Janapaksha yatra here on Tuesday evening. He said his visit would not have been an occasion for a meeting but a time to pay tribute to the religious leader.

He said the visit was a closed chapter and would not intend to create a controversy over it.

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