'Why do they talk about Narendra Modi insulting Oommen Chandy when he himself informed the PMO that he would not be available? Why did he write to Delhi that he was preoccupied on the 15th? After that, he should not make such noise about the function.'
Last month, Vellapally Natesan, the head of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, the social organisation of the Ezhava community, was in Delhi to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to unveil the statue of R Sankar, Kerala's third chief minister (1962 to 1964).
Sankar had to resign as chief minister after a no confidence motion was passed in the assembly. When he was defeated in the assembly election in 1965, he retired from politics to concentrate on the SNDP.
A statesman, administrator, orator, educationist, writer and editor, Sankar belonged to the Ezhava community, which forms 24% of Kerala's population, and is one of the most influential communities in Kerala politics.
In his interview to Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com after his visit to Delhi, Natesan, left, spoke about the need for Hindu unity in Kerala and for a Third Front with the Bharatiya Janata Party leading it to take on both the Congress-led United Democratic Front and the Communist Party of India-led Left Democratic Front.
In the local civic body elections that followed, the BJP with the SNDP's support put up an impressive performance.
The unveiling of Sankar's statue will happen on Tuesday, December 15, amidst controversy. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has been asked not to participate in the event, provoking Rahul Gandhi to criticise Modi for asking the SNDP not to invite the CM.
In this interview with Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com, Vellapally Natesan explains why they did not want the chief minister at the event.
The unveiling of R Sankar's statue by the prime minister has resulted in a controversy. Under protocol, is the chief minister not needed to be present at a function where the prime minister is present?
Where is the question of protocol when it is a private function? What we have organised is a private function and has nothing to do with the government. So those who talk about protocol are wrong.
Did the chief minister not write to the PM that he would not be available on the 15th? He also wrote to the PMO that he would not be available for the function at Sivagiri the PM is attending.
The Congress has taken it up as a big issue and Rahul Gandhi commented that Narendra Modi has insulted Ommen Chandy by not inviting him to the SNDP function.
Let the Congress talk such things. Why do they talk about Narendra Modi insulting Oommen Chandy when he himself informed the PMO that he would not be available? Why did he write to Delhi that he was preoccupied on the 15th? After that, he should not make such noise about the function.
S Gurumurthy tweeted that it was because the Oommen Chandy government has filed a case against you for hate speech that the chief minister was not invited for the function. Is there any truth in this?
Did Gurumurthy say that? Anyway, I do not want to give a chance for the media to have a field day on this issue. I want the function to go on well. That is my first priority. By the way, it was the organisers who invited the chief minister.
So, was he invited first?
Yes, he was invited, but when he wrote to the PMO that he was unavailable on the 15th to attend the function at Sivagiri, we told him not to come for this function also. He himself had informed Delhi that he was unavailable on the 15th.
Why should there be a controversy in this? This is a private function and not a government-sponsored event. We are bearing all the expenditure; nobody else has any hand in this.
Another criticism from the Congress is that the BJP and the SNDP have hijacked R Sankar who was a Congress chief minister,
The Congress has no right to talk to about R Sankar because there was no other Congressman who suffered the most from the party. This was the party that pulled him down when he was the chief minister.
This was the party that criticised him the most. So the Congress has no authority to pay any respect to him or speak highly of him.
Let the party first look back and see what they had done to him in the past.
He along with Mannath Padmanabhan had made efforts to unite the Hindus then, but they were unsuccessful...
But the Hindu Mahamandalam started by both of them has more relevance today than ever before. It might not have worked then, but it will today, as the people of Kerala want such a movement now.
What we are working for now is to realise their dreams and efforts.
Do you consider your Samatva Munnetta Yatra undertaken from Kasargod to Thiruvanathapuram a success?
The success of our yatra has made both the UDF and LDF jittery now. The leaders of both fronts are going through sleepless nights. From the time we started the yatra till we ended, we were abused and criticised by both the fronts, and that was because we had attracted a lot of people.
Though they had made many threats, lakhs and lakhs of people participated in the final rally in Trivandrum at the Samkhumukham beach. The finale was a spectacle.
Both the fronts had an understanding till now to loot the state and the people of Kerala are aware of it now. That is why they feel threatened.
What you saw at Samkhumukham was the feeling of the people that there should be a Third Front to put an end to their looting. Their criticism against us show they are scared of us and consider us a threat.
Will there be an announcement about the Third Front when the PM is here in Kerala to unveil the statue?
No, there will not be any announcement. You will have to wait for some more time to hear that news.
The other day when I spoke to a political observer, he was of the opinion that in all probability, the BJP with the support of the SNDP would be the deciding factor in the next assembly election as till now the margin that separated the UDF and LDF was very narrow. Do you also feel so?
I fully agree with him. We will decide who will rule Kerala next. There is no doubt about that. The Third Front will have that voice. Till now, we have seen both the UDF and LDF appeasing the minorities all the time and suppressing the voices of the majority.
The next election will see the uprise of the majority community against the social injustices practised by both the fronts.
When I spoke to you earlier, you said you had no plans to enter active politics. Does that mean you will be the kingmaker?
I am neither a king nor a kingmaker. I am just an ordinary man representing a socially backward community!