SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan said his organisation would have to disown Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), its political offspring, if it continues to align with the BJP.
“The SNDP Yogam has no control over the BDJS. But the fact remains that the Centre, by introducing economic reservation, has betrayed 82 per cent of the backward classes in the country to favour the remaining 18 per cent. They are playing vote bank politics at our expense. We cannot let this happen,” Natesan told Onmanorama after holding an emergency meeting of SNDP unit leaders at Vaikom on Friday.
BDJS chairman Thushar Vellappally, on the other hand, was of the view that the economic reservation was not just for the forward communities but for everyone. “It is for the economically backward in all castes and communities in the country. This is also for the Ezhavas,” Thushar told Onmanorama from Dubai. "The media seems to have misled people about the contents of the constitutional amendment bill," he said.
However, his father is bracing for a big fight. Vellappally said he would challenge the move in the Supreme Court. Besides, the Yogam has decided to launch door-to-door awareness campaign against the decision. “We will align with all like-minded parties and organisations on this issue. This is a life-and-death issue for our community,” Natesan said. “I was touched by the courage shown by the Muslim League in opposing the Bill in Parliament,” he added.
The veteran has no choice but to put up a mighty show of protest as his very popularity among Ezhavas is founded on his fanatic opposition to economic reservation. Any sign of compromise, including BDJS's continued dalliance with the NDA, could cost him dear. Parallel but dormant power centres within the SNDP Yogam, like the one chaired by Gokulam Gopalan, could suddenly turn active.
Also, the tactical double game that the leadership has been playing – with the SNDP Yogam leaning towards the Left and its political wing, BDJS, embracing the Right – cannot be sustained any more. During the ongoing Sabarimala controversy, for instance, the Ezhava leadership demonstrated a near miraculous capacity for bilocation. Its men and women took part in both 'Ayyappa Jyothi' and the 'Women's Wall'.
If Natesan could hold on to his supremo status for so long it was mainly because he played on the Ezhava community's fear of losing reservation benefits. “It could be suicidal for the leadership not to attack the BJP in the issue. If BDJS continues its affair with the BJP, what will the leadership tell its constituents who had been historically mobilised using the threat of economic reservation,” said political scientist J Prabhash.
However, Thushar made it clear that he prefers to be with the NDA alliance. “What India needs is development and only one man can deliver,” he said, referring to Narendra Modi.