Kerala CM, cabinet colleagues call on SNDP strongman Natesan

Alappuzha: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday made a surprise visit to the residence of Vellapally Natesan, General Secretary of the powerful Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, the socio-cultural body of the Hindu Ezhava community.

Incidentally, this is the first time that Vijayan, as Chief Minister, has gone to Natesan’s house near here. The Chief Minister, who was accompanied by Finance Minister Thomas Issac, Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran, PWD Minister G.Sudhakaran, and Civil Supplies Minister P. Thilothaman, spent about 20 minutes there.

Such visits are more commonly seen during rule of the Congress-led United Democratic Front, when the Chief Minister and other ministers visit Natesan at his house.

After calling on Natesan, Vijayan and his Ministers took part in the inauguration of the first phase of the facilitation centre at the temple headed by Natesan. On the occasion, Vijayan promised that funds for the second phase would also be given.

When the Centre failed to give any grant for the temple, Vijayan’s government had extended a grant of Rs 3 crore.

Approached by media to divulge the reason for the visit, both Vijayan and Natesan did not say anything.

Of late, Natesan and Vijayan have had the best of relations and the former had extended full support to the government on the Sabarimala issue after the apex court’s verdict allowing entry of women of all ages to the hilltop shrine.

It was on this issue the relationship between the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Nair Service Society, the body of the Hindu Nair community, worsened, after the latter wanted the Vijayan government to take a stand against entry of all women as it was “against the tradition and culture of the Sabarimala temple”.

After the NSS took a tough stand on the issue, Natesan came out in full strength to participate in the Women’s Wall, organised by the Vijayan government, formed across the state with the twin objective of creating consensus of opening Sabarimala to all women and also to promote gender equality.

Reacting to Vijayan’s visit to Natesan, state Congress President Mullapally Ramachandran told the media that the CPI-M and Vijayan have the habit of criticizing social group leaders in public speeches and then suddenly turning up at their houses.

“With elections round the corner, everyone understands the real reason behind this sudden house visit,” he said.