UDF bid to address pro-minority tilt

In an apparent move to get over the blues caused by the induction of the Indian Union Muslim League’s fifth Minister into the Cabinet, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy appears to be reaching out to the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) by extending several sops to the Ezhava community.

Some of the recent Cabinet decisions are quite significant for being specific in their content. It gives clear indications about the UDF’s line of thinking, particularly that of the Congress, coming as it does in the backdrop of the greater Hindu unity move spearheaded by the SNDP Yogam and the Nair Service Society against the perceived pro-minority tilt of the ruling coalition.

The most important of the decisions is the one taken by Wednesday’s Cabinet to include the teachings of Sree Narayana Guru in the school curriculum up to Standard XII, excluding Standards IV and VI. This would be included in the Malayalam and social science textbooks in these ten classes.

The Chief Minister, at his customary post-Cabinet press briefing, said the government had accepted the M.K. Sanoo committee’s recommendations after the Education Department and the State Council for Educational Research and Training scrutinised it.

The curriculum committee would examine the proposal and take necessary action to include it from the next academic year, he said.

Another decision taken by the Cabinet a couple of weeks ago was to sanction a Rs.3-crore grant for the proposed Sivagiri Convention Centre at Varkala. A month earlier, the Cabinet went the extra mile to de-notify three important temples in Malabar from the purview of the Malabar Devaswom Board.

The operative part of this decision is to hand over the administration of the Sreekanteswaram temple, Kasaba, in Kozhikode; Jaganatha temple, Thalassery; and the Sundaresha temple, Thallappu, in Kannur to managing committees.

The three temples, among the few revenue earning temples in Malabar, were actually notified temples under the Hindu Religious and Endowment Act prior to being brought under the MDB that came up later, testifying to their historical importance.

The Left Democratic Front government had earlier made moves to de-notify these temples but the process could not be completed as it went out of power. The UDF government apparently had capitalised on this by de-notifying the three temples.

Another major opportunity for the government will come by when the question of constituting the Travancore Devaswom Board is taken up soon.

According to reliable information, Subhash Vasu, who is being backed by the SNDP, has emerged as the frontrunner for the TDB president’s post. Several names are doing the rounds but going by the current decision-making methods, the SNDP may have its way, sources said.