Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has scored a big political point on Thursday when he sought Modi government's aid for Thushar Vellappally, a top leader of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the state who was jailed in the United Arab Emirates.
Thushar, son of backward Hindu Ezhava leader Vellappally Natesan, was arrested in an alleged financial fraud case on Wednesday. He was released on bail on Thursday, reportedly after intervention from non-resident Indian businessman M A Yousuff Ali, who is close to Pinarayi.
Pinarayi wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar a few hours before Thushar secured bail on Thursday.
Neither the Bharatiya Janata Party nor the NDA has demanded Thushar's release, despite being in power at the Centre.
Thushar's political party - Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) - is the second largest constituent of NDA in Kerala. He contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Wayanad, only to finish third behind eventual winner Rahul Gandhi of the Congress and P P Suneer of the Communist Party of India.
BDJS was formed a few months before the 2016 Kerala Assembly election at the insistence of BJP president Amit Shah. Shah had directly negotiated with Vellappally Natesan and convinced him to form a new party. Later, the party was inducted into the NDA.
Ezhava community constitutes 23% of Kerala's population.
A favour returned
By seeking Centre's intervention in Thushar's case, Pinarayi appears to have returned a favour to Vellappally Natesan. Vellappally was one of the few Hindu leaders who supported Pinarayi when Sabarimala issue was on the boil in the state.
In his letter, Pinarayi expressed concern about Thushar's well being and health. "News channels reported the arrest of Thushar Vellapally, vice president of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) yogam at Ajman in the United Arab Emirates. I express concern about his well-being and health while in custody. All possible help within the limits of the law needs to be made available to him. I request your kind personal attention and intervention in this regard,” read the letter.
However, Pinarayi has described Thushar as the vice-president of the SNDP and not as a BDJS leader.
SNDP is the largest organisation of Hindu Ezhava community. It is considered to be a traditional vote bank of Pinarayi's party, the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Immediately after Thushar's arrest, Vellappally alleged that his son was trapped under the pretext of negotiation.
Sangh Parivar had organised violent protests and hartal in the state after the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment in September, 2018, allowed women below 50 years entry in Sabarimala temple.
The state government formed a 'Renaissance Protection Committee' to counter Sangh Parivar with Vellappally as the president. The committee organised a 620-km 'Women's Wall' on January 1 along national highways.
Media reported that Thushar handed over the dishonoured check worth 10-million-dirham (Rs 19 crore) to his business partner before he closed down his debt-ridden-business in Ajman 10 years ago. The case was filed by his business partner Nassil Abdullah from Thrissur. The petitioner had invited Thushar in the pretext of settling the case out of court. Ajman police arrested him during the negotiation meeting at a hotel.