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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Will Nair-Ezhava unity become a reality?

After a few failed attempts to achieve unity NSS, the major organization representing Nairs and SNDP Yogam, the major organization representing Ezhava community in Kerala have decided to join hands to face issues that threaten the Hindu community in Kerala. The reason for the current realization of unity is the increasing strength of Muslim community in the affairs of the state through their political party Indian Union Muslim League.
The latest development was announced by NSS general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair by the end of June 2012. This was approved by SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan.
Previous NSS-SNDP unity moves
The first NSS-SNDP unity move was made by none other than NSS founder Mannath Padmanabhan and SNDP stalwart R. Sankar. Mannam even discontinued the use of his title Pillai for the sake of unity. That unity was mainly aimed to weaken the increasing dominance of Christians in Congress. But the unity did not last. Perhaps egos of two community members broke it. Also it was administered from top. Ordinary Nairs and Ezhavas did not wholeheartedly welcome it.
During the period when Kidangoor Gopalakrishna Pillai was general secretary of NSS again there was unity move. But it did not go further. The political conditions of the time saw a power equilibrium in Kerala among different communities and perhaps that was the reason for the stagnation.
The last attempt for Nair-Ezhava unity was in 2007. The then general secretary of NSS P.K. Narayana Panicker and Mr. Natesan had joined hands to face threats to Kerala Hindus. Though it went smooth for a while and Nairs and Ezhavas generally accepted the unity, it could not go further over silly issues. The main issue was inability of NSS leadership to control their nominee who headed Travancore Devaswom Board which controls temples in southern part of Kerala and the alleged involvement of a SNDP representative in the board in bribery scams. The issue finally resulted in both organizations parting ways.
However the real reason was said to be manipulations made by some Congress leaders in Kerala who were afraid of the threats posed by the unity to political prospects of Congress in the state. Normally majority of Nairs vote for Congress, but Hindu unity means Nairs may vote for BJP.
After Mr Nair became NSS general secretary, he had been sending feelers to Vellappally to revive the unity but Vellappally seemed to be cautious at first. The recent controversy of granting fifth minister to Muslim League and allotting government funds for a large number of educational institutions of Muslims in Kerala are the factors which made Nairs and Ezhavas realize that they have no option but to unite as Hindus.
The current situation in Kerala is entirely different from the past. Muslim community has become financially and politically dominant. The community has now become the largest single community in Kerala accounting for about 25 per cent of population as per official statistics and 27 per cent according to unofficial ones. The flow of petro dollar from GCC has made Muslims the richest community in the state. There are more muslims in Kerala assembly than past.
Comparing unity move with previous ones
Let us check if the current unity will survive. When previous unity moves were made (except in 2007) the Nairs and Ezhavas had not seriously thought about Hindu identity. The growing influence of Hindu nationalistic organization RSS and their political party BJP has created a broad Hindu identity among Nairs and other Hindu castes in Kerala. The new generation is not as proud of caste identity as their forefathers.
The losing influence of communist party in Kerala means Ezhavas, their support base, are not much influenced by Communist ideology which helped divide Kerala Hindus as backward and forward. Now so called backward Ezhavas don’t have attitude of hatred toward forward castes of which Nairs constitute major chunk.
Backward communities in Kerala now do not think Nairs as the group which suppressed them. The rise of political Islam in Kerala has necessitated the need for Nairs and Ezhavas to stand together. So that way there is more chances for survival of unity.
Intercaste marriages are now common in Kerala and Nairs and Ezhavas are more likely to accept each other.
While earlier Nair and Ezhava masses did not approve unity, the current unity is forced by them. Even after the unity move of 2007 made by Panicker and Natesan failed masses of both communities continued to support it. So the present unity move is actually brought by masses. Even if leaders withdrew for some reasons slow unity of both communities could not be denied.