'Nobody uttered a word when Advani came to Sivagiri mutt'
Ever since the Sivagiri Mutt in Kerala invited Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the chief guest of the Sree Narayana Dharma Meemamsa Parishad, Kerala politics has taken a new direction.
What has become interesting is the coming together of two major Hindu groups -- the Shree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam and the Nair Service Society. Till now, the SNDP, largely representing the Ezhavas and the NSS representing the Nairs in Kerala, had resisted sharing the same platform.
Now, the leaders of both the groups are talking about the coming together of the two major communities and if it really happens, it can change the political scene in Kerala that has been dominated by the Congress-led United Democratic Front and the Communist-led Left Democratic Front.
In this exclusive interview, Vellappally Natesan, general secretary of the SNDP, talks to rediff.com's Shobha Warrier about the prospective alliance and also about Narendra Modi.
Was inviting Narendra Modi to the golden jubilee of the Sree Narayana Dharma Meemamsa Parishad a decision of the Sivagiri Mutt alone or does the SNDP have any role in it?
The SNDP has absolutely no role in it. It was a decision taken by the mutt. We were not there on the dias also. Who should be invited for the celebration of the mutt is the prerogative of the Dharma Meemamsa Parishad. We have no authority there.
Pinarayi Vijayan said by inviting Modi for the celebrations, the mutt has lost its secular credentials. What do you have to say about that?
Modi came only now. Do you know, before that, L K Advani had come but at that time, nobody had uttered a word. That was a bigger meet than this one. They raised this kind of accusations only when Modi visited. If these people had kept quiet, nobody would have even known about his visit. Modi's visit became national news only because these people made all kinds of noise.
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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed at the Sivagiri mutt in Kerala. (Inset) Vellappally Natesan
'Hindus, Muslims, Christians voted for Modi in Gujarat'
Why don't those who criticise Modi forget Modi's political ideology and look at what he has done for his state? He must have done something really right for the people of Gujarat to elect him for the third time. You must remember that he became the chief minister for the third time not because only Hindus voted for him but because all the people of Gujarat voted for him -- which includes Hindus, Muslims and Christians. If the Christians and Muslims of Gujarat have no complaint against him, why do these people from Kerala complain?
The Left parties described Modi's visit as a black day in Kerala...
I don't think so.
It was unnecessary to make such comments about a chief minister. If these people had not made such comments, Modi's visit would not have become such a huge popular event. There were lakhs of people assembled to see him, and listen to Modi. It was only because some politicians protested that it became such a huge success. Those who criticised it should know that a few sanyasis would not be able to make any impact on the Kerala political scene.
What I am saying is, you try to see the good things Modi has done, the development work he has done for his state.
It is now said that it was the Modi effect that is responsible for the SNDP and NSS holding discussions for a possible coming together. Is it true?
It is not the Modi Effect. We are meeting and talking so that the majority community can get all the benefits that they truly deserve. Of course, our common platform will have a secular outlook. When we talk about our rights, we are also talking about the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes who have been denied many of their rights.
What we see in Kerala is, both the political fronts in Kerala compete with each other to provide all the power, wealth, facilities and benefits only to the minority communities. This resulted in political power resting only in the hands of the minorities with the majority community being totally sidelined.
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Image: Modi being felicitated at Sivagiri mutt
'Secularism is the most abused word in Kerala'
Do you really feel the majority community has no role in ruling the state?
Is there any doubt about that? Who has all the wealth? Who has all the land? In every field, there is an uneven distribution. When you distribute wealth, power and land, it has to be divided equally among all the people of the state. It may seem small but you look at the personal staff of all the ministers, who dominates there?
When these ministers are elected by people from all communities, how can they favour only one community? Is it right when these ministers behave as if they are the ministers of only their own community?
When did you start feeling alienated?
We have started seeing this discrimination for quite some time; it is not a new phenomenon. When all of us started seeing and experiencing such injustice, we all felt the time has come for all of us to come together to fight this injustice and discrimination. For the last 4-5 years, we have been thinking of a united front.
Are SNDP and NSS looking at a united Hindu platform?
Our agenda is not a united Hindu platform. When we say a united Hindu platform, people will misconstrue it as BJP agenda. What we are talking about is a union of the majority communities and this will be a secular platform.
Both the UDF and LDF also say they are secular fronts?
What secularism are they talking about? Just by saying, we are secular, nobody becomes secular. It is a very beautiful word but it is the most abused word here. If you want to see the monstrous face of secularism, you have to only look at the personal staff of all these ministers.
We have been independent for more than six decades but have the scheduled castes and tribes in India tasted independence even today? Except shouting for their rights, what have all those in power done for these marginalised communities?
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Photographs: EV Deepak VM/Reuters
'Justice should not be only on paper; it should be for people'
Do you feel only if the SNDP and NSS come together, there will be a change in the political scene in Kerala?
Yes. Only if we stand together will we be able to bring about a change. Both the left, centre and right work hard to bring the other communities together under vote bank politics while the disunited majority community is totally neglected. Both the fronts in Kerala saw to it that the majority community is always disunited and they remain as many splintered groups. They even try to create fights amongst us.
Only because there was no unity among the majority community, they have been denied justice in all the fields including politics, education and wealth. The majority community in Kerala has been a victim of all this for quite some time, and the time has come for them to come together and seek justice.
Will this alliance develop into a political party?
There is no chance of this alliance turning into a political party. Our aim is to be a political force.
You have two political fronts in Kerala, the UDF and the LDF. To which side will this alliance lean?
We will have no leanings towards any of the fronts. We will not look towards the right or the left; we would only utter some of the social truth that has not found expression so far.
Without taking a political stance, how far can you achieve what you stand for?
To make politicians and political parties see the truth, it is not essential to be a political party. More than that, we can indulge in pressure tactics if we are a formidable power. If we want to be a formidable power, we have to stand united. To some extent, it will help us get justice.
You must understand that we have no plan to grab what other communities have; we want to give justice to all the people whether they are Ezhavas or Nairs or Namboodiris. Justice should not be only on paper; it should be for people.
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Photographs: Dan Istitene/Getty Images
'There is no ideology in politics; only opportunism'
In what direction will this alliance move forward?
All of us will sit together and decide on the future course of action.
Kerala is said to be a 100% literate state but many political parties in Kerala are based on either caste or religion. What do you have to say about this? Is this right?
No, it is not right. A government should be ruling for all people and not for any particular caste or religion. But what do we see? All the parties, whether of the left or right, they all encourage and give importance only to particular religious groups. They make them part of their alliance and use them as vote banks. This is what we see today. Is this not a tragedy?
There is no ideology in politics; only opportunism. They are only interested in exploiting caste and religion and in no time, Kerala will once again be a lunatic asylum like Swami Vivekananda said once.
What do people want? Development. Nothing else. Can Kerala politicians achieve at least 10% of what Modi did in Gujarat? Didn't he take Nano plant to Gujarat from West Bengal by giving them electricity, land and water? Can any politician in Kerala help start something like that here? When you talk about the Modi Model, you look at his development model and forget the politics he follows. Shibu Baby John meeting Modi and trying to learn the development model he follows there, has been looked upon as a crime by the ruling party. How narrow minded these people are! You should have an open mind to appreciate the good done by anyone.
Will the SNDP- NSS unity change the social and political scenario in Kerala?
The time has not yet come to talk about all that. You wait and watch what happens in future!
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