Saffron Stains On The Red Carpet

Of a feather SNDP leader Vellappally Natesan meets PM Narendra Modi to discuss political plans
Of a feather SNDP leader Vellappally Natesan meets PM Narendra Modi to discuss political plans

In an effort to better the human species through cross-breeding, the Namboodiri Brahmins of the North were settled in Kerala and a rule was laid down that the eldest son of a Namboodiri family could marry only the daughter of a Vaishya, Kashtriya or Shudra communities of Kerala.” MS Golwalkar, the former sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) might have created this narrative to suit his race theory when he delivered this speech in 1960.

What remains historically true, however, is the fact that the RSS and its affiliates have tried to breed saffron politics in Kerala by bringing in leaders from north India since long back. People like Dattopant Bappurao Thengade, who later formed the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, descended to Kerala from Maharashtra during the pre-Independence era to politically unite a diverse society under the banner of Hindutva.

However, despite great efforts, the RSS and the BJP were unsuccessful in making any impact in Kerala. These days, the BJP makes use of the ‘Modi-frenzy’ to woo the disillusioned middle-class voter and forages for new allies.

Recently, the party got a shot in the arm when it was able to rope in the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), a sociocultural organisation founded by the reformer Sri Narayana Guru who preached the philosophy of ‘one caste, one religion, one God’. Today, the SNDP represents the interests of the numerically strong Ezhava community.

The BJP has also made headway in creating an understanding with some Dalit organisations such as the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha. With these understandings, the party hopes to get over the frustrating electoral debacles which it has experienced throughout its election history in Kerala and start anew by attempting to build a kind of social engineering that it has successfully achieved in the northern part of the country.

With the upcoming local body elections next month and Assembly polls due early next year, the BJP has been able to catapult itself into mainstream political debates by aligning with caste organisations, which have hitherto been loyal to the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Even in the past, the BJP had made attempts at forming alliances with various caste Hindu organisations such as the SNDP and the Nair Service Society (NSS). However, the socioeconomic differences between the Nairs and the Ezhavas thwarted the BJP’s dream of creating a ‘political Hindu’ among the Kerala electorate.

Another eternal hurdle in the BJP’s way has been the political consciousness of the Dalit community in Kerala who have been highly critical of the Brahminical social order. Hence the atmosphere has not been conducive for the BJP  to further their political ambitions in Kerala so far. However, things seem to be changing for the BJP with the new ties that it has made in the state and all this has given the CPM much cause for worry.

The CPM, the single largest political party in Kerala, has drawn its major support from the Ezhava community till now. The SNDP, though the organisational arm of the community, did not take political positions in the past. But now, the leaders of the organisation have stated that it will soon start a political party which will ‘strive for the unity of the Hindus’ and resist the ‘policy of appeasement of minorities’ practiced by both the Congress led United Democratic Front (UDF)t and the LDF.

Although, the SNDP has not yet officially announced its plans for an electoral alliance, the organisation’s general secretary Vellappally Natesan’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, gives a clear idea of where they are headed. The SNDP will be conducting a state-wide yatra before launching their political party, for which the BJP will be giving logistical support.

This adds to the woes of the CPM, which has been experiencing sagging fortunes for a long time. However, the party leadership tries to put up a brave face. “The ideals of Sri Narayana Guru are contradictory to the Hindutva ideals of the BJP,” says S Ramachandran Pillai, politburo member of the CPM. “So, despite attempts by Natesan and some leaders in the SNDP, the rank and file of the organisation will not go with the BJP. ”


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