A new ‘sena’ prepares to join the BJP

Birds of a feather Natesan waves to the crowd along with leaders of other Hindu organisations. Photo: VV Biju
Birds of a feather Natesan waves to the crowd along with leaders of other Hindu organisations. Photo: VV Biju

Sudheeran believes that Natesan’s decision to launch a new party is an attempt to promote the RSS ideology in the state. “What I oppose is his new-found love for the politics of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar. He should now stop saying anything about Sree Narayana Guru’s teachings because he is now promoting the teachings of Godse,” said Sudheeran to the media.
Even CPM Politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan believes that the party floated by Natesan has nothing to do with Narayana Guru and has been “merely made to strengthen and help the RSS in the state.”
History repeats itself as SNDP comes up with a new political party. In 1976, the SNDP formed the Socialist Republican Party (SRP). The party even won two seats in the 1982 elections but it soon faded into oblivion due to internal squabbles. The SRP was with the Congress at the time. The Nair Service Society (NSS ), another caste organization, had also come out with a party called the National Democratic Party (NDP) in 1974. It also saw initial political success after fading into oblivion.
Almost four decades later, the SNDP wants to break free from the binary choices of either sticking with the Congress or the Left. Natesan may also be looking to launch his son Thushar Vellappally into politics with the formation of the new party. K Gopinathan, former SNDP general secretary, tells Tehelka that the move to launch the new party is to launch Thushar into politics and make him a minister. “Natesan is a businessman with no political consciousness and he lacks any social outlook to lead a party or an organisation like SNDP ,” says Gopinathan.
He also added that in his tenure as SNDP’s general secretary, Natesan maintained a clique to stay in power. Those who raised voices against his manipulations were thrown out. “By tagging the Ezhava community with his new party, Natesan is trying to play communal politics for maximum personal gain. He has handled the Yogam as his personal entity by appointing his wife, son, daughter-inlaw and other kith and kin in key positions. The same fate awaits his new political venture.”
Former SNDP president CK Vidyasagar believes that the new political outfit will lead to the downfall of the SNDP . “The new party does not augur well for the SNDP , which comprises of members from almost all the political parties of the state. But as far as the BJP is concerned, this political experiment of Hindu consolidation will help them establish themselves in the state,” says Vidyasagar. However, he believes that though the BJP will get peripheral gains from allying with Natesan’s party, their chances of emerging as a potent power in the state look dim.
K Raman Pillai, former state president of the BJP , who later quit the party due to differences with the leadership, sees Natesan’s political moves positively. “ SNDP is a good beginning that will inculcate a pro-BJP tendency in the minds of backward communities, especially Ezhavas,” says Pillai. “SNDP’s vehement criticism by the Congress and the UDF shows that they fear that it will emerge as a potent threat in the near future. If the state unit of the BJP is able to sort out its differences, then it would open chances for a mighty third front with the help of the SNDP.”
Natesan has not clearly stated the BDJS agenda. He has only come out with general slogans like ‘Save Kerala, Build Kerala’. This might be because the BDJS was launched keeping in mind only the prospective BJP alliance. But, Natesan has been inconsistent in his stances all these years. Thus, a party with no proper agenda and a leader who is known to be inconsistent could create problems for the BJP. According to local body election results, Vellapally’s decision to forge an alliance with the BJP did not yield much apart from gains in some pockets.
The politics landscape in Kerala had not seen any major change after the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014. But of late, the communal polarisation that the entire country has witnessed and the taut support that both the LDF and the UDF have given to caste organisations in a bid to gather votes has turned the situation volatile. The support enjoyed by the Left has started to dwindle over scores of issues and the current Congress-led coalition government has triggered a sense of uneasiness among the people. There are reports that many from the Left parties have switched over to the BJP and most have been from the Ezhava community. It is under these circumstances that the BJP , sensing opportunity, thought about forging an alliance with community organisations in the state. The SNDP, under the leadership of Natesan, proved to be an ideal party for such an alliance.
Though the state leadership of the BJP was not too keen on allying with Natesan’s SNDP , the party’s central leadership was firm on doing so. A possible change may take place in the state unit of the BJP this month. Political observers believe that the new party may join the NDA then.