Inviting trouble in Kerala

Updated - November 16, 2021 03:55 pm IST

Published - December 18, 2015 12:52 am IST

Petty local rivalries have combined with national-level politicking to create an embarrassing situation for Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy: after being invited to preside over a function where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to unveil the statue of former Chief Minister R. Sankar, >Mr. Chandy was asked to stay away by the organisers, who have formed an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Whether or not this was done at the behest of senior leaders of the BJP, it is clear that the organisers, the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, a Hindu backward class outfit, will need to take a major part of the blame for putting the Kerala Chief Minister in an awkward position. But, neither the BJP nor the Prime Minister’s Office could have been unaware of the decision to keep the Chief Minister out. While the statue unveiling was a private function, and the Chief Minister was not required to be invited, it was highly improper to have asked Mr. Chandy to skip the function citing silly excuses after having first invited him. Both the SNDP and the Congress can lay claim to the political legacy of Sankar who served in leadership capacities in the two organisations. But with the SNDP moving towards the BJP, the fight for Sankar’s legacy seems to have got complicated in recent times. Over the days leading up to the unveiling of the statue, the Sangh Parivar had attempted to dig up information about Sankar’s links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in his formative years. Evidently, for both the SNDP and the BJP, to have a Congress Chief Minister preside over the function would have diminished the political dividends that could be expected from projecting Sankar as a Hindu, backward class Ezhava icon. Whatever the excuses given by SNDP leader Vellappally Natesan to Mr. Chandy, the fact remains that a Congress Chief Minister on the dais would have been politically inconvenient for the SNDP and the BJP.

Not surprisingly, the controversy saw both the Congress and the Left parties on the same side, with former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) describing the withdrawal of the invitation to Mr. Chandy as an insult to Kerala as a whole. Both formations have suffered erosion in their support base following the rise of the BJP in Kerala on the back of the growing influence of the RSS. The alliance with the SNDP has given the BJP greater reach ahead of next year’s Assembly election, and leaders of other parties have remarked that the SNDP is acting as a feeder organisation for the BJP. Without doubt, the SNDP-BJP alliance would see some social and political churning in Kerala. As it seeks to expand its base, the RSS-BJP combine is evidently moving beyond seeing the Left parties as the prime enemy. In the past, RSS sympathisers had overtly and covertly backed the Congress against the Left Democratic Front. That phase now seems to have ended.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.