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KERALA POLITICS IN TURMOIL OVER NEW PARTY

CONFUSION PREVAILS IN BOTH BJP AND LEFT

 

By P. Sreekumaran

 

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Will the formation of a political party by the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SDNDP), the powerful organization of the dominant Ezhava community, catalyse the emergence of a third front in the State?

 

Political pundits are sharply divided on the issue. While there is one school which believes that the new party, christened Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), will speed up the emergence of the third front, there is another stream of thought which thinks otherwise.

 

The latter is of the firm view that the Hindus themselves are a divided lot. In support of their argument, they point to the ambivalence of the BJP itself. It is of great significance, they aver, that the BJP and the Hindu Aikya Vedi stayed away from the function which marked the launch of the BDJS.

 

They have a point. It is an open secret that the State BJP leadership is not at all happy about the projection by the central leadership of the party of SNDP general secretary Vellappally Natesan as the sole leader capable of leading the so-called third front. Though the state leaders have not openly voiced their opposition, it is an undeniable fact that there is resentment against the sidelining of the state BJP leadership. Hence their ‘boycott’ of the launch of the new party aimed at consolidating the unity of Hindus in the state.

 

Opponents of a tie-up with the SNDP within the state BJP think that the understanding with the SNDP has not benefited them at all in the local bodies elections. In fact, the feeling is pronounced that the BJP would have done much better had it gone it alone.

 

What this shows is that the State BJP will fight tooth and nail any attempt to impose the SNDP boss as the leader of the third front. The resentment against Vellappally denotes their fierce determination not to surrender their political space to the new party.

 

The SNDP general secretary is also aware of the ambivalence of the BJP towards the BDJS. Hence his declaration that the formation of a Hindu Rashtra was not on the agenda of the new party. It is also not against the minorities, claims Natesan. But this assertion is a sharply at odds with the avowed objective of the BDJS: to bring various Hindu organizations under one umbrella to counter the ‘minority appeasement’ of the Congress-led UDF Government in the state.

 

A major setback for the SNDP’s political initiative has been the fierce denunciation of the move by the Nair Service Society(NSS). NSS boss G. Sukumaran Nair has condemned the SNDP move in no uncertain terms. The NSS, which reaffirmed its secular credentials, has made it clear that it would never be a part of the third front being sought to be cobbled together.

 

Ever the Yogakshema Sabha, the organization of Brahmins, is divided over backing the new party. Office bearers of the Sabha are on record that they are not with Vellappally, who is trying to polarize the Kerala polity on religious lines, and inject communal venom into the state’s body politic.

 

The organization of the Thiya community, has, likewise, set themselves against the BDJS.

 

The only organization which has extended unstinted support to the BDJS is the Kerala Pulaya Maha Sabha(KPMS), the body of the Pulayas, a backward community, which is only a bit player on the Kerala political landscape.

 

This being the ground reality, it will be an uphill task for the BDJS to make its presence felt in the short term. The party, obviously, has a hard haul ahead.

 

But it will be a big folly for the secular parties to play down the significance of the BDJS’s formation. There is no room for complacency as the communal forces are growing in the state at the expense of both the Congress-led UDF and the CPI(M)-headed LDF.

 

The immediate challenge before the left parties is to get at the root of the problem they are facing: exodus of party cadres to the BJP camp. The left parties deny it but it is a reality to which they can shut their eyes only at their own peril.

 

It is against this backdrop that the candid admission by CPI State secretary, Kanam Rajendran has to be viewed. Kanam had admitted that the left parties were also guilty of minority appeasement. May be not to the extent the UDF is doing it. Safeguarding of the interests of the minorities is perfectly in order, Kanam said, adding that appeasement simply won’t do.

 

Kanam has a point. While the left parties have been vehement in their criticism of Natesan move to communalise secular Kerala, they have been mealy mouthed when it comes to countering the unabashedly anti-women and anti-Hindu pronouncements of Muslim leaders like Kanthapuram Abubacker Musaliyar, head of the EK faction of Sunnis in the state. The crux of Kanam’s argument is that the left must shed its inhibitions to condemn minority communalism. That is the only way to arrest the exodus of the Hindus from the left parties.

 

It is unfortunate that the CPI(M) does not agree with Kanam’s position on the issue. The earlier that party sheds its reservations on this score, the better it would be for consolidation of left unity. (IPA Service)