New in Kerala, a contest for the Hindu vote

The BJP has set about building a grand Hindu alliance of various groups, a move that individuals and groups leaning towards the Congress and the Left have taken note of.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: January 11, 2016 5:17 am
State BJP chief Kummanam Rajasekharan visits members of the erstwhile Travancore royal family in Thiruvananthapuram. Express State BJP chief Kummanam Rajasekharan visits members of the erstwhile Travancore royal family in Thiruvananthapuram. (Source: Express photo)

The concept of a Hindu vote bank, hardly ever discussed in decades of Congress and Left rule in Kerala, is evolving for the first time ahead of the assembly elections. The BJP has set about building a grand Hindu alliance of various groups, a move that individuals and groups leaning towards the Congress and the Left have taken note of.

Congress state vice-president V D Satheesan and M A Pearson, a political observer with Left leanings, concede that parties will be contesting for the Hindu vote bank, though both dismiss the BJP’s efforts.

The BJP has forged an alliance with SNDP Yogam, which represents the backward Hindu Ezhava community, and weaned a splinter group away from Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha, the largest Dalit organisation and one that has been traditionally with the CPM. The BJP’s alliance includes Brahmin organisation Yogakshema Sabha and fishermen’s organisation Deevara Sabha.

Traditionally, it has been the Christian and Muslim vote banks that the Congress and the Left have seen as potent enough to swing an election. The CPM has had an electoral understanding with the fringe Muslim party Indian National League since its formation; in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections it allied with terror accused Abdul Nasser Madani’s People’s Democratic Party. In the United Democratic Front, the IUML and factions of the Christian-dominated Kerala Congress are key allies of the Congress.

Things have changed since the BJP’s strong performance in an assembly byelection and subsequent civic polls held last year.

“This is the first time in Kerala that political parties are entangled in a battle for the Hindu vote bank,” said Pearson, the political observer. He felt the Ezhava vote bank would come under pressure from parties. “As there is a rift between the leadership of upper caste Nairs and backward caste Ezhavas, it is unlikely to work towards a major Hindu consolidation as the BJP is hoping for,’’ he said.

BJP state general secretary K Surendran said Kerala’s Hindus aren’t traditionally a consolidated vote bank but every Hindu caste or group has formed its own organisation over the last one decade, each one serving as a separate vote bank. This election would definitely mark the emergence of the Hindu vote, he said, especially after Hindu Coordination Committee general secretary Kummanam Rajasekharan has become the BJP state president.

Satheesan, the Congress state vice-president, agreed the Hindu vote has taken centre-stage. “But a Hindu consolidation is unlikely to happen due to the rift between SNDP Yogam and NSS of Nairs. The BJP has the support of upper-caste Hindus but because of its alliance with the backward caste Ezhava outfit SNDP Yogam, it runs the risk of losing that traditional vote bank,” he said.

Pearson expects Christians and Muslims to tone down their bargaining this election. A change in approach was already visible, in fact, when the Kerala Catholic Church, seen to be pro-Congress, lauded the Hindu community for its contribution to the welfare of Christians. Cardinal Baselios Cleemis of the Catholic Church said at a Hindu Nair meeting, “Minority rights are enshrined in the Constitution. But before the Constitution was drafted and government systems were put in place, it was Hindus who were protecting the minority communities, including Christians.”

Although the BJP has got closer to the Ezhava community’s SNDP Yogam, the community’s spiritual centre Sivagiri Mutt is divided over the Yogam’s political approach. Besides, Yogam general secretary Natesan’s rivals within the Ezhava community too have become vocal. Again, although the Hindu Nair NSS leadership is yet to warm up to the BJP, rivals of its general secretary Sukumaran Nair have got closer to the Sangh Parivar.

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First Published on: January 11, 2016 3:42 am
  1. M
    murali
    Jan 11, 2016 at 4:13 am
    Whether it is HINDU VOTE OR ANY OTHER VOTE NOT MATTER BUT KERALA NEEDS A CHANGE FROM UDF AND LDF WHO LOOTING KERALA FROM 1947,UDF AND LDF HAVE OVER CONFIDENCE AND UNDERSTANDING FOR LOOTING KERALA
    Reply
    1. S
      Srividya Jayaraman
      Jan 11, 2016 at 2:31 pm
      I think you are Christian fool. Our Amma is any day much better. You guys are like bihari going like a dog to each and every state for jobs
      Reply
      1. S
        Srividya Jayaraman
        Jan 11, 2016 at 2:35 pm
        My daughter is in studying in Christian college. I have seen many Chritians comes and tries to brainwash especially poor Hindus students by maki g them Jesus is the only savior. This is the way VmChristians do especially in Kerala.
        Reply
        1. K
          Kiran Krishna
          Jan 11, 2016 at 3:58 am
          there is no christian majority in kerala. christians are just about 17% of kerala potion
          Reply
          1. R
            Ramesh Kumar
            Jan 11, 2016 at 6:55 am
            In kerala the christians can openly support and vote for Kerala congress, the all christian party and Muslims for Muslim league party but if a moderate hindhu say something supporting Modi or BJP , he is called a Sanghi and abused , such is the intolerance shown towards the hindhus in kerala .
            Reply
            1. A
              Anand
              Jan 11, 2016 at 8:04 am
              Love Jihad,Terror Sleeper Cells,Fake currency in abundance,Vote bank politics............Hindus in Kerala will have to pull up their socks as vote bank community or else will have to go kashmiri pandits way!
              Reply
              1. A
                ankit
                Feb 16, 2016 at 2:16 pm
                First of all,hindu should unite.try to bring christians.we share common values.we r kafir for muslims.be anxious please unite to tackle barbaric islam
                Reply
                1. A
                  Archpagan
                  Jan 11, 2016 at 9:01 am
                  Hindus of Kerala must unite if they want to avoid the fate of Kashmiri pandits.
                  Reply
                  1. B
                    BAPTY.s Seshasayee
                    Jan 11, 2016 at 8:00 am
                    Sad Keralites make majority Minority. They would be wise to Vote for BJP.
                    Reply
                    1. B
                      Bijan Mohanty
                      Jan 11, 2016 at 7:49 am
                      BJP is trying to make a caste based division of votes in Kerala. But Kerala voters are very smart to bite this bait.
                      Reply
                      1. B
                        Bijan Mohanty
                        Jan 11, 2016 at 4:54 pm
                        Definitely not through religion.
                        Reply
                        1. B
                          Bijan Mohanty
                          Jan 11, 2016 at 2:14 pm
                          In India, unity comes through similarity in ideologies and respect for values. Those who think that unity will come through religion are in fools paradise. And those who think that vote will flow through religion in Kerala will be the most disappointed lot.
                          Reply
                          1. V
                            vinod
                            Jan 11, 2016 at 11:32 am
                            i am part of hindu but i hate casteism
                            Reply
                            1. V
                              vinod
                              Jan 11, 2016 at 11:30 am
                              the problem with BJP is they are after royal families and dont believe that india is democratic country
                              Reply
                              1. S
                                Siv
                                Jan 11, 2016 at 10:10 am
                                " it was Hindus who were protecting the minority communities, including Christians.” --- this is Christian al-takkiya. Flatter to deceive, when inconvenient.
                                Reply
                                1. D
                                  Democrat
                                  Jan 11, 2016 at 3:59 am
                                  Please consider this is a humble question... What is Hinduism? do you guys consider "Hinduism" as religion or civilisation or coining own terms to define certain belief? I spoke with few Hindu friends and they all come with their own definition and sometime I felt based on region (north vs south, east vs west) they have different preference of GOD and flavour e.g. Kashmiri pandits are allowed to eat non-veg but as you travel down from Kashmir to southern India dietary requirement becomes more strict for brahmins. Please reply if you have good understanding of Hinduism else let someone reply who can explain it better. Thanks in advance.
                                  Reply
                                  1. D
                                    Democrat
                                    Jan 11, 2016 at 9:29 am
                                    Please mind your own business if you don't know the answer. Who are you to command others.
                                    Reply
                                    1. D
                                      Democrat
                                      Jan 11, 2016 at 9:28 am
                                      Thanks Kapil... that's a good explanation.
                                      Reply
                                      1. D
                                        Democrat
                                        Jan 11, 2016 at 9:38 am
                                        Why not win election with right spirit i.e. by presenting right economic model, right development model, right educational model etc... and why it's always communal polarization...? if you are supporter of any political party then contribute the right way instead of provoking such negative comments... your comments here will never stop people changing their religion but your good actions can shape the future of our country.
                                        Reply
                                        1. R
                                          Raj
                                          Jan 11, 2016 at 8:34 am
                                          What has 60 years of sickuarlism brought Kerala ? Just Madras and Mullahs across the Malabar. Communists, sickularists both want to promote foreign ideologies and foreign traditions where as traditional Kerala culture is no longer practiced or even spoken about.
                                          Reply
                                          1. V
                                            Venkataraman Jagadesan
                                            Jan 13, 2016 at 5:07 pm
                                            It is in the larger interest of the state that the Hindus should unite and vote for BJP. Unfortunately the Hindus were always at the receiving end during the rule of UDF or LDF. Kerala is not an atheist land unlike their neighbor TN. In TN the Kazagams have ruined the state by their anti God stand. The worst is DMK lead by karunai nidhi. Hope the BJP at least succeeds in getting good number of seats. Jai HInd.
                                            Reply
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