Photo caption: DSJP President KSR Menon (extreme left) and General Secretary Prof K Gopakumar (second from left) with other members of the party
The emergence of a forward communities’ party after a gap of 23 years could upset the apple cart for the existing political fronts in Kerala whose electoral fortunes in assembly and panchayat elections are decided by wafer-thin margins.
The Democratic Social Justice Party (DSJP), which claims to represent the forward communities who form over 19 per cent of the state population, says this segment feel discriminated because of reservation on the basis of caste or religion and cannot be taken for granted hereafter.
The forward Hindu communities, predominantly Nairs who are about 17 per cent and Brahmins and related communities comprising three percent will be a decisive factor in Kerala as in the last assembly elections 28 seats were won by less than 5,000 margin and 58 were won by less than 10,000 margin. They could potentially get the support of a section of Christians who are also peeved by the reservation issue.
“We had met the late Kerala Congress leader K M Mani, who was very upbeat about the prospect of the party. Whenever Christians and Nairs had joined hands earlier, they were electorally very successful,” said KSR Menon, DSJP President.
With the emergence of the BJP-led NDA as the third big force after the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front and Congress-led UDF, the votes will face a three way split and here the DSJP could be a decider in many assembly constituencies much like the powerful Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) of the Patel community in Gujarat, Menon said.
Significantly, Menon said DSJP is not against the existing reservation system but want all the quota based facilities in the state like widow pension and education allowance extended to the forward communities starting from those below the poverty line, the issues raised by DSJP are very relevant in the other Indian states too, he added.
DSJP last week held talks with the Forward Communities Commission Chairman Justice Hariharan Nair and demanded a separate department within the government on the lines of the Minorities Communities Directorate to look after the poor among the forward castes.
The DSJP has support from members from the Malabar Nair Sewa Samaj (MNSS) which has a strong presence in northern Kerala, Global Nair Sewa Samajam, International Nair Association (INA) and several other forward community organisations and even a section of Christians who feel marginalized because of quota-based discrimination, he said.
The General Secretary of SJP is Professor Gopakumar who was earlier General Secretary of National Democratic Party, a forward communities’ party launched by the NSS, which in 1984 polls won four assembly seats. NDP was disbanded in 1996. The Treasurer is a prominent businessman Mallelil Sreedharan Nair who came into limelight after filing a case against former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in Sarita solar case.