The BJP’s Kerala unit put out a Facebook post late Thursday night calling Narayana Guru, a renowned social reformer, a ‘Hindu sanyasi’. Friday marks ‘Chathaya dinam’, the birthday of the leader. The post has gone viral, prompting comments from people, many of which were critical.
“Narayana Guru is the greatest Hindu sanyasi that Kerala has contributed to the world,” the party said in the Facebook post. The BJP also called him a ‘revolutionary’ who removed the blemishes in the Hindu religion by modernising it. It said those who are praising him now have insulted and rebuked him in the past.
Narayana Guru, who died in 1928, was a fierce critic of the caste system in Hinduism and sought to free those born into lower castes from stigma and oppression. He himself was born into an Ezhava family, a socially backward Hindu community. Over time, his influence and popularity expanded to a great extent that propelled many to become his followers. He spread the philosophy of ‘Oru jathi, oru matham, oru daivam’ (One caste, one religion, one god).
By calling Narayana Guru a ‘Hindu sanyasi’, many on Facebook said the BJP was trying to add a religious tinge to the leader. “He was a social reformer. He was not a voice for any religion,” a Facebook user wrote.
The BJP has been in the news for staking claim to national and cultural icons of the country through ideological affinity. The party has also been trying to tap into the influential Ezhava community, who have generally sided with the LDF in Kerala during elections.
Earlier this week, BJP chief Amit Shah was in the news after his tweet wishing people ‘Vaman Jayanthi’ created controversy ahead of the festival of Onam. The tweet also came days after an article in ‘Kesari’, the Malayalam publication of the RSS, sought to downplay the legend of King Mahabali, the demon king who is at the focal point of Onam celebrations in the state.