Malappuram: Even as the Vengara assembly by-poll in Kerala is set for October 11, the BJP-led NDA is facing tough times, as its second-biggest constituent BDJS stayed away from the alliance's first election meeting near here on Friday.
The state leadership of the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) had directed its Malappuram district unit to keep away from the election convention.
State Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Kummanam Rajasekharan told the media here that they expected that the BDJS would be with them during the poll campaign.
"We have briefed our national leadership about the demands of the BDJS and we are hopeful that all issues would be sorted out," said Rajasekharan.
Popular political analyst A. Jayasankar told the media that, as far as the Vengara by-poll was concerned, the presence or absence of BDJS was insignificant, since this particular constituency and Malappuram district had been the citadel of United Democratic Front (UDF) ally Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the outcome of the poll was a foregone conclusion.
Former legislator K.N.A. Khader of the IUML is taking on CPM leader P.P. Basheer at Vengara, while the BJP has fielded the party's national executive member K. Janachandran.
The by-election became necessary after sitting legislator and top IUML leader P.K. Kunhalikutty vacated the seat after he got elected from the Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency in April this year.
Kunhalikutty won the 2016 assembly poll by a margin of over 38,000 votes and, in the Lok Sabha poll, the margin went up to over 40,000 votes.
It was in December 2015 that the powerful Hindu Ezhava leader Vellapally Natesan launched the BDJS and soon joined hands with the BJP and its National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and his son Tushar was made the supreme leader of the party.
In the 2016 assembly poll, the BDJS made a good start by securing 3.9 percent votes, which by Kerala election standards was a good beginning.
The BDJS leadership, especially Natesan, is unhappy with the national leadership of the BJP as his repeated requests for positions in corporations and in other posts have not been addressed and, of late, he has been publicly criticizing the party's state leadership.
His sudden visit to the residence of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the state capital early this week had set tongues wagging, as he himself had time and again openly said that the BDJS would snap ties with the BJP and move to the Left camp.
Natesan, even though he does not hold any post in the BDJS, is the general secretary of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) -- the social movement of the Ezhavas that propagates the values of social reformer Sree Narayana Guru.
The Ezhava community in Kerala accounts for over 50 percent of the Hindus in the state, which has a population of 3.30 crore.
While Natesan is keen that the BDJS should join the Left Democratic Front, his son Tushar feels it would be best to stay in the company of the Congress-led UDF.