Political opportunism? Vellappally Natesan and son take opposing stands on Women’s Wall

Vellappally has announced that he and the SNDP will participate in the Kerala govt's Women’s Wall, while his son Thushar and the BDJS are expected to give the event a miss.
Political opportunism? Vellappally Natesan and son take opposing stands on Women’s Wall
Political opportunism? Vellappally Natesan and son take opposing stands on Women’s Wall
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In what is being seen as political opportunism, both the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) and the political party floated by it – the Bharath Dhrama Jana Sena (BDJS)- have taken contradictory stands over the Kerala government’s Women’s Wall campaign. The Women’s Wall, a human chain that will take place on January 1, is the LDF government’s move to raise awareness about its stand to implement the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages into Sabarimala.

While the BDJS, an ally of the BJP in Kerala, has publicly stated that it won’t back the Women’s Wall, the SNDP is one of the major participants of the Women’s Wall. SNDP is a community organisation representing the non-dominant Ezhava caste.

Incidentally, father and son hold top positions in the community organization and the political outfit. Thushar is the president of the BDJS and the Assistant Secretary of SNDP. The political outfit, however, is the brain child of Vellappally Natesan who has been the supreme authority of the community organization for decades. In reality BDJS is consists mostly of members of the SNDP, though not all Ezhava community people are with Vellappally’s decisions.

Vellappally, meanwhile, will take part in the Women’s Wall, while Thushar is expected to give it a miss.

Although it is not the first time that father and son have publicly taken contradictory positions on the issue, some reports have suggested that BDJS may back the Women’s Wall. The absence of Thushar from the Ayyappa Jyoti event was conspicuous, fueling speculation that the BDJS will officially announce its support for the Women’s Wall.

Speaking to TNM Thushar said, “SNDP supports the Women’s Wall since it is a movement for Renaissance values, not because SNDP supports the young women’s entry into Sabarimala.” When asked if the view is contradictory, he said, SNPD General Secretary Vellappally Natesan had never said that he supports young women entry into Sabarimala.

Thushar has been taking part in the rallies organised by the right wing organisations opposing the government’s move to implement the SC verdict. Ayyappa Jyoti, a human chain, was held to counter the Women’s Wall. It was organised by the Sabarimala Karma Samithi backed by the BJP, RSS and other Right Wing organisations on December 26.

 “I didn’t take part in Ayyappa Jyoti since it was not organised by the NDA. Also I was invited by the organisers latel about the event. But a major chunk of the BDJS people took part in the event. Though as a political outfit BDJS won’t take part in the Women’s Wall, members are free to take their own decision,”Tushar said. “We won’t take action against those who will take part in the Women’s Wall, as BDJS is a political outfit consists of people from all communities,” he adds.

However, he refuted media reports that BDJS will take part in the Women’s Wall. Some reports suggested that it was after BJP Chief Amit Shah’s intervention that Thushar changed his stand on supporting the Women’s Wall. All is not well with the NDA alliance in the state as Janadhipathya Rashtriya Sabha, the political outfit launched by tribal leader CK Janu, parted ways with it in November.

Vellappally Natesan’s stand is more complicated than that of his son. When asked if he supports young women’s entry into Sabarimala, he said, “You don’t ask questions, instead you come and see on January 1 what all is happening.”  Like Thushar, Vellappally also tries to portray BDJS as a political outfit independent of the SNDP.

Vellappally was one of the prominent community leaders who attended the maiden meeting of the Women’s Wall convened by the Chief Minister.

It was in May that the police booked Vellappally and Thushar in the micro finance scam. As per the FIR by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, the SNDP Yogam received Rs 15.85 crore from Kerala State Backward Classes Development Corporation (KSBCDC) for distributing loans to self-help groups between 2003 and 2014. However, SNDP allegedly misappropriated and misused the funds.

Some critics suggest that it is for this reason Vellappally supports the government to ensure that action isn’t taken against him.  Some others, however, argue that Vellappally is taking a safe stand by being with the Left government and at the same time keeping his son with the rival BJP so that changes in the political and power equations won’t impact both the SNPD and the BDJS.

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