The BJP’s decision to back key ally Vellapally Natesan, general secretary of Ezhava outfit Sree Narayana Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), whom the Kerala vigilance department has booked in a microfinance scheme scam case, is set to become a flash point between the party and the ruling CPM in the state. This comes soon after a BJP and a CPM worker were killed in political clashes in Kannur.
The BJP has alleged that the case against Natesan and four others from the SNDP is “political witchhunt” by the LDF government. It has said that the “Communists wanted to finish” SNDP and the Natesan-led Bharath Dharma Jana Sena, which is an NDA constituent.
The party has argued that CPM, which so far enjoyed the support of Ezhavas, is now worried about BJP’s “increasing influence” in the community.
“The LDF government is now witch-hunting. The case is just political vendetta. Natesan is known as a hero of microfinance and the BJP has decided to support,” said a BJP leader.
Although the BJP was not fully satisfied with the BDJS’ performance in the 2016 Assembly polls, the party has decided to strengthen its ties with the Ezhava community. “The party’s considered view is that our alliance in Kerala was successful,” a party leader said. Sources said the party also felt that the case against the SNDP leaders could be used to consolidate Ezhava votes.
“Ever since the LDF came to power, CPM leaders have been wooing the Ezhavas. From the Finance Minister’s budget speech in which he quoted Narayana Guru to the Chief Minister’s visit to Sivagiri Mutt, the government is going out of its way to please the community. But the BJP will strengthen its ties with the community,” said R Balashankar of the BJP.
Natesan and four others have been booked for alleged irregularities in the microfinance scheme run by SNDP. Sources in Kerala government said the outfit had availed of funds from National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation, which are meant to be given to the poor at at an interest rate of 2-4 per cent and then lent money to people at 12-14 per cent through the microfinance scheme. The sources added that SNDP also used the money for its other projects.