Aiming to make inroads into Kerala's bipolar political space, the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, a social organisation of the backward Ezhava community, today announced the formation of a new political party -- Bharat Dharma Jana Sena -- "to ensure equal rights and justice for all".
"The aim of the party is not to make a Hindu rashtra. This is a secular party," SNDP General Secretary Vellapally Natesan said at the launch of the new outfit at a massive rally on Shankumukham beach here following the culmination of his 16- day 'Samathwa Munnata Yatra' to unite Hindu caste outfits.
Questioning the secular credentials of mainstream political parties, Natesan hit out at both the ruling Congress -led UDF and CPI(M)-headed LDF in the state and said it was an 'adjustment rule' all these years by the two alliances, which have enjoyed stints in power alternately.
The formation of a new political outfit ahead of Assembly polls next year assumes significance as SNDP has been warming to BJP in the state since the recently held civic polls, which saw the saffron party improving its position, though not on expected lines.
The tie-up between BJP and SNDP had come after a series of visits by BJP President Amit Shah to Kerala and meetings with Natesan, who also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi recently.
Both UDF and LDF had fiercely attacked the SNDP leader during the run up to the civic polls and during the yatra, which began from Kasaragod on November 21.
After UDF and LDF leaders unitedly attacked the yatra, Natesan had claimed that his efforts to bring together the majority community "seems to have unnerved them" as he alleged that several "hurdles" were created by them to thwart him.
"Two cases have been registered against me. One for an alleged communal hate speech and another for alleged irregularities in a micro-finance scheme run by SNDP," he said.
While CPI(M) veteran VS Achuthanandan had filed a vigilance complaint seeking a probe into alleged irregularities of Rs 15 crore in the micro-finance scheme of SNDP, KPCC President VM Sudheeran had sought legal action alleging that Natesan was trying to divide society along religious lines.
Hitting out at both leaders, 79-year-old Natesan had termed them 'renegades' and said "they are both from the Ezhava community and are baying for my blood".
Natesan also claimed that his name was dragged into the
suspicious death of the former head of Sivagiri Mutt, Swami Saswathikananda -- who drowned in Periyar river at Aluva in 2002 -- after he announced SNDP's intentions to form a political party.
Lashing out at Achuthanandan, he alleged that the CPI(M) veteran had also misused his position as the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly and said his party would keep its door open for cadres, especially youngsters from LDF and UDF.
Rejecting the charge that he had made a communal hate speech, Natesan said he had only pointed out the "discriminative policies of the successive governments in doling out financial assistance to people".
"We are not against any community, religion or political party. We only want equal justice and rights for all," he said.
Natesan said that the socially and economically-backward members of the majority community should also be uplifted on the lines that were suggested by the Sachar committee for the Muslim community.
Stating that there are 22 lakh landless labourers in the state, a majority of whom were from the Hindu community, he called for a government "white paper on the beneficiaries of title deeds of revenue lands issued so far".
"We are not communalists as alleged by rivals. There are two sections. Minorities and majority. All should get equal rights," he said.
Natesan also lashed out at the media, alleging that through discussions on TV, the media was trying to whip up communal divisions in the state.
The SNDP general secretary had courted controversy during the yatra for his statement on the financial help given by the government to the family of an autorickshaw driver, Naushad, who died while trying to save two migrant workers from Andhra Pradesh.
A case of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth and language was registered against him.
Natesan had said he was only drawing attention to the injustice faced by the majority community, and his intention was not to hurt anyone.
He had alleged that the government was extending help after looking at the caste and the religion of the victims.
KPCC has sought legal action against Natesan for making "communal hate speech".