1

Judging from the context, it seems to me that ので in the following sentence means "in order to", similar to のに, and not "because of". Can this be possible?

過激派トップとされているが、実は本人はそのつもりはなく、ただ勝手についてくる者は不都合はないので側に置いているだけのこと。

Also, I don't get the general meaning of the second part of the sentence, in particular who 勝手に relates to, the person in question or his followers? Here's my attempt:

He is considered the leader of the extremist faction, but that's not his intention, he has his volunteer followers around simply in order to avoid any inconvenience.

Thanks for your help!

2

ので still means "because" in this sentence. ただ勝手についてくる者は不都合はないので means "simply because those who follow him of their own will are not inconvenient/bothersome (to him)". The second は after 不都合 is contrastive (i.e., the followers are at least harmless, if not helpful)

"simply in order to avoid inconvenience" would be "不都合がないよう(に)", "不都合のないよう(に)", "不都合をなくすため(に)", etc.

勝手に modifies ついてくる and means "on one's own", "without asking/permission", etc.

1

ので is similar to から (because). You should however note that it sounds more soft, unlike for から which gives an emphasis on the first part of the sentence.

You can find more here: http://www.jgram.org/pages/viewOne.php?tagE=node

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