It is interesting times in Kerala, the state which has a record of not allowing a single assembly or parliament seat to BJP till date, is going to witness mother of all Hindu revival yet to date by way of a “Samathwa Munnetta Yathra” ( Rally for everyone’s progress) taken out by Mr.Vellapally Natesan covering all the caste combinations of Hindus in Kerala and taking the final plunge to a political party standing for Hindu unity in Kerala for proportionate development of Hindus to the population of Kerala.
Vellapally Natesan is a well-known name in Kerala but hardly known to anyone outside Kerala. So let me introduce him first as the General Secretary of SNDP Yogam (NGO representing most populous Ezava (OBC) community in Kerala) following the ideals of Saint Sree Narayana Guru. He is always known and respected as someone who speaks his mind and shown the courage to call a spade a spade.
“Vellapally” as he is popularly known, has been a messiah of sorts to Ezava community in Kerala, who are bracketed under the backward class in Kerala’s caste system. Since his term as General Secretary, Ezava community has seen greater progress whether it’s their right to government jobs and schemes or their financial status in general. Microfinance schemes run by SNDP Yogam in a way have changed the communities fortunes like never before and it is his good work that makes him the tallest non-political leader in Kerala and not just in his community.
Let’s understand the relevance of Vellapally now. The relevance of Vellapally Natesan comes with his taking up the mantle of uniting Hindus in Kerala consisting utmost lower cast of Nayadi to utmost upper cast of Namboodiri. Why this unity now? This unity is supposed to address the major issue of marginalization of Hindu community in Kerala since independence across socio economic spectrum when compared to the minorities.
Let’s not be mistaken about Hindu marginalization as a minority agenda or the new movement as an anti-minority movement. Because there is general acceptance amongst Hindus, that if anybody had to be blamed for Hindus plight, it had to be the Hindu leadership and we must appreciate the Muslim and Christian leadership in Kerala, who like nowhere in the world has got their communities progress notwithstanding their minority status. They have truly demonstrated the merits of democracy and they should be the role model for Hindu community in Kerala to come out to prosperity.
In order to justify above observation, I am referring to an article written, way back in June -2006 by Dr. C.I Isaac, Head of the PG Department of History, CMS College, Kottayam, Kerala, titled “Why Hindus lag behind in Kerala”.
Let me explain the gist of DR. Isaac’s article as below.
Even though Hindu’s account for slightly above 54% of Kerala’s population, Kerala’s politics has been influenced strongly by Muslim and Christian communities, whether its congress led UDF or CPI (M) led LDF, the portfolios like education /industries etc. always goes to members from minorities. Article shares data point which shows while minorities control about 3340 schools in the state, majority control just 194 schools. When it comes to arts and science colleges, Muslim and Christian communities manages about 223 against 42 managed by Hindus. In case of professional colleges against 258 managed by the minorities, majority Hindus manage about 89. According to the 1997 statistics, out of 14200 college teachers in Kerala 76% belonged to Minority community.
Similarly when it comes to industries, business or Health, it is the minority community who holds the upper hand in Kerala.
As on 2006 , Hindus owned just 10 Hospitals against 928 belonging to the minorities and when it comes to share in the industry, agriculture and commerce, Hindu share is 28, 24 , 28 percent against 30 ,23 ,40 of Muslims and 35, 40 , 36 percentage for Christians.
Above data point, testifies my earlier statement that when Muslim and Christian leaders were working to strengthen their communities by exercising their political rights by being united, Hindu leaders were playing politics of divisions by opposing Hindu Unity as unacceptable for the good of the society due to their political differences, leading to marginalization of Hindu community across spectrum of life.
Now this is where Mr.Vellapally Natesan needs to be appreciated and hailed for his conviction that majority community needs similar strategy to grow in a similar manner to minorities in Kerala.
It is all about following the successful path of Muslim and Christian leaders for bringing in a proportionate growth /prosperity for Hindus.
Now it’s fact that BJP’s image in Kerala is that of a Hindu hardliners who kills beef eaters and Dalits or it is the way BJP is generally projected by media and opponents of BJP and by and large majority seems to carry that impression in their minds, which explains why BJP hasn’t been able to win a single MLA seat till date. Yes there has been steady progress to the vote share; still it is way below to be a third front force in Kerala.
Now against this, Mr.Vellapally Natesan carries the image of a progressive Hindu, who respects other religions, who doesn’t have a problem with beef eaters as well as he doesn’t believe in moral policing etc. His OBC status nullifies the notion of upper caste control over anything which unites Hindus. This makes him great fit for the tallest Hindu leader tag in Kerala, who wants to follow the Muslim and Christian unity strategy amongst Hindus and get the proportionate share in development for Hindus irrespective of his caste and creed. He for a change has even foregone his earlier opposition to reservation based on economic status.
Now according to him, he is actually realizing a dream of two tall community leaders from Kerala. That is Shri Mannat Padmanabhan who set up Nair Service Society (Nair accounts for 12% of population) and Shri R Sankar of SNDP (Ezava accounts for 20% + of population). Both these leaders understood the need for Hindu unity way back in 1950 and had planned to form a Hindu Mahamandalam to protect the socio economic interests of Hindus but couldn’t realize it, which in way has resulted in the present situation of Hindus in Kerala. Now Vellapally is all set to realize their dream.
Even though it is not going to be not that easy for him, as leaders from both UDF and LDF has been attacking Mr.Vellapally Natesan with allegations ranging from murder to financial irregularity but he has shown tremendous courage to with stand all these and to do his Karma of uniting Hindus in Kerala, as stated by him.
Now it will be interesting to see whether Kerala’s Hindu population will break out from the deep routed liberal views of being anti Hindu unity or realize the importance of unity and stand behind Mr.Vellapally and make his “Samathwa Munnetta Yathra” a grand success. Because after 68 years of independence finally Kerala is having tall leader from Hindu community, who believes unity is the way forward for progress and this opportunity is so rare to let go waste by Hindus.
BJP’s role is keenly watched here, as Vellapally Natesan hasn’t really spelt out his plans on alliance yet nor the BJP leadership.
Finally, for this attempt to succeed, Vellapally Natesan will have to convince the Hindus first that this unity is not against Muslims or Christians but for a proportionate growth for Hindus in Kerala along with Muslims and Christians and this strategy doesn’t come from Delhi or Amit Shah but from witnessing the successful strategy of Muslim and Christian leadership within the state over the years.
So Kerala’s Hindu is in for a big ideological battle, from a communist /rationalist identity to Hindu identity for the prosperity of Kerala and winner of the battle will play a key role come 2015 assembly elections.
(Yathra starts from 23rd November and ends on December 4th)