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The man who thinks it is his karma to unite Hindus in Kerala

By Shobha Warrier
October 28, 2015 23:08 IST
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'Slightly more than 50 per cent of all Keralites are Hindus. If we can unite as many as we can, we can create a huge difference in the political scene in Kerala.'

After meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah's presence recently, Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam President Vellapally Natesan told the media that there had to be a unity of all Hindus in Kerala, and it was high time a Third Front was formed in Kerala.

According to the 2011 Census, Hindus comprise 54.73 per cent of Kerala's population. The state has 26.56 per cent Muslims and 18.3 per cent Christians.

The Ezhava community, which the SNDP represents, forms the majority among the Hindus. More than 20 per cent of Kerala's Hindus are Ezhavas.

Though Natesan spoke of Hindu unity, Nair Service Society chief G Sukumaran Nair is not in favour of such unity. The Nairs are 14 per cent of the state's population, the second largest group after the Ezhavas.

Efforts to unite the SNDP and NSS have been undertaken earlier as well but the NSS has always been against it.

Natesan tells Shobha Warrier/ that a Third Front is possible in Kerala, but he has no plans to enter politics. Perhaps, he prefers to be the kingmaker and not the king!

You said there had to be unity of all Hindus and that there was space for a Third Front in Kerala. Is that the reason you decided to meet Narendra Modi and Amit Shah?

I did not go to Delhi to discuss politics with them. It was to invite them for the function where we were planning to inaugurate the statue of R Sankar (an Ezhava Congress politician, who was Kerala's third chief minister, from 1962 to 1964).

Yes, there is a need for the majority community to unite, and there is enough space in Kerala politics for a Third Front. This is not the first time we are talking about it.

All Hindus should take the initiative and form a Third Front for the next elections.

As you know, slightly more than 50 per cent of all Keralites are Hindus. Even if we are not able to unite all Hindus, if we can unite as many as we could, we can create a huge difference in the political scene in Kerala.

This is urgently needed, because the other two fronts are trying to create vote banks. As the Hindus are not united, nothing has been done for them.

I consider it my duty and karma to unite all Hindus.

Do you think Christians and Muslims have dominated Kerala politics, and hence Hindus feel neglected?

A feeling of neglect has been in the minds of all Hindus for quite sometime.

Both the fronts (the Congress-led United Democratic Front and the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front) are only interested in pampering the minority communities, neglecting the aspirations of the majority community all the time.

The majority community did not have a leader to raise their voice inside or outside the political space, and give voice to their displeasure. That's why when we came out with the idea of Hindu unity. We have received tremendous support across the state.

Both the fronts are now feeling jittery as they realise that we pose a huge threat to their existence. Naturally, they are trying hard to stop all our efforts.

Kerala Congress chief V M Sudheeran (also an Ezhava) says history will not forgive you for what you are doing, and that your efforts will not bear any fruit. He also said that Sree Narayana Guru (the social reformer and guiding spirit for Natesan's SNDP) spoke of one religion and one caste.

Narayana Guru encouraged people to congregate and be a power. What do you need today? A chance to rule! Only if we have power will we prosper and move ahead.

Look at Sudheeran; he did not become the KPCC (Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee) president in the right way. It is but natural for people like him and other political parties who have enjoyed power to be frightened of us and utter all kinds of nonsense.

The SNDP is a social organisation. Are you planning to convert it into a political party or just support the BJP?

We have no plans to convert the SNDP to a political party. It will remain a social organisation.

When we speak about Hindu unity, it includes not just the Ezhavas who are part of the SNDP, but also the Nairs, the Namboodiris and all other backward Hindus. The leaders of all these people will come together to form a political party.

You speak of Hindu unity, but NSS chief Sukumaran Nair has always talked against such an initiative. When the Nairs form a good percentage of the Hindu population, how much will his reluctance to start a Hindu party affect your plans?

It will in no way affect our plans. The Nairs form 12 per cent of Kerala's population and I am sure 10 per cent of them are with us.

Only Sukumaran Nair is against our initiative; even his associates are with us.

There are more than 3,000 karayogams (NSS branches) in Kerala and all their members are ready to join hands with us to have Hindu unity in the state. The truth is they are not listening to what Sukumaran Nair says.

You spoke about Hindu unity and a Third Front after your meeting with Modi. Did you discuss this with him and Amit Shah?

This is incorrect. I have been mooting the idea of Hindu unity and a Third Front for quite sometime, not after meeting them. For the last 12, 13 years, I have been talking about the need to have unity of all Hindus -- from the Namboodiris to the Ezhavas to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes. I have always said the SNDP would do all it could do to realise such a unified Hindu front.

So it is not after meeting Amit Shah that I spoke of this. It is the neglect that we face that prompted us to think on these lines.

Is there a possibility of you joining hands with the BJP in your efforts?

When we form a political party, whoever comes to join hands with us, we will encourage them to join us.

We are open to work together with all those who are ready to work with us.

Narendra Modi at Kerala's Sivagiri Mutt, where social reformer Sree Narayana Guru is believed to have attained enlightenment and got salvation.

'The majority community did not have a leader to raise their voice inside or outside the political space, and give voice to their displeasure. That's why we came out with the idea of Hindu unity,' says Vellapally Natesan.

If you are ready to accept the BJP, let me ask you about their present politics. The most talked about subject in India today is beef politics. Most Hindus in Kerala eat beef while for the BJP and the Hindus belonging to north India, the cow is sacred. In fact, many colleges in Kerala had beef fests in protest.

My question is will any of these colleges dare arrange a pork fest on their campus?

I would say such fests will only breed communalism, nothing else.

These kinds of fests will not work in a state like Kerala. Just because there is freedom in this country, you can't do whatever you want.

Every individual is bound to follow the laws of the land.

Some states like Maharashtra have banned beef. Do you support such bans?

Who forms the laws in a state? Those elected by the people, the representatives of the people. Till now, the elected representatives of the people of Kerala have not asked for a ban on beef.

In future, if they decide to ban beef, even the people of Kerala have to abide by the law. But you must understand that they can take a decision only on the basis of what the people of the region want.

I do not think in Kerala, such a ban will ever come into effect. So why should we talk about such an issue?

Is it right on the part of the state to interfere in the life of an individual, like what he should eat, what he should wear, etc?

It is another matter that these days, doctors advise people against eating meat as it is harmful to your health.

But if a state passes a law, is it not the duty of an individual to obey it? For example, there are certain rules in the Middle East that nobody is allowed to kill pigs there. Can anyone defy them?

In India, some people take pride in breaking laws. It happens only in India. Here, people think freedom lies in breaking laws.

The Namboodiri community has asked for minority status as they feel that most from their community are financially backward. Do you feel reservation should be based on the economic status of an individual?

We are not of the opinion that reservation should continue forever. The financially backward in the forward castes deserve all the help they need. There have to be packages for such people so that they don't suffer. We will support such packages wholeheartedly.

Kerala will have an assembly election next year. How hopeful are you of the Third Front creating an impact?

We will have a strong impact on the electorate. We may even get a chance to rule the state. You need not have any doubt about its success.

Are you going to be the leader of the Third Front?

I will never be the leader and I will never be a minister. I will not even contest the elections. I have no desire to be in power. I will only work for Hindu unity and the creation of a Third Front.

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