Nair, Ezhava communities unite in Kerala


Thiruvananthapuram : In a move aimed at increasing their bargaining power vis-a-vis the government, the Nairs and Ezhavas, two of the most influential Hindu groups in Kerala, are joining hands.

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Two prominent leaders of the two communities, G. Sukumaran Nair and Velappaly Natesan, met here Monday to forge unity on the strength of four points that have not been made public.

Nair heads the Nair Service Society (NSS), the social outfit of the Nair community. Natesan is leader of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, which represents Ezhava interests.

NSS general secretary Nair called on Natesan, and the two promised to be united at the broader level while continuing to retain their separate views on religious, political and social issues.

A similar attempt by Natesan and then NSS general secretary P.K. Narayana Panicker failed to yield results some yeas ago.

Hindus in Kerala constitute more than 50 percent of the 3.25 crore population, followed by Muslims (24 percent) and Christians (22 percent).

The Ezhavas are more in numbers compared to the Nairs. But the latter is positioned above the Ezhava community in the caste hierarchy.

The Nairs get no reservation in government jobs and in admissions to educational institutions.

But the Ezhavas, classified as Other Backward Classes (OBCs), enjoy the benefits — depending on the income of individual members of the communtiy.

This has been a sore point between the two.

The main reason for the new-found unity efforts followed the victory of the Congress-led coalition led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

Nair and Ezhava leaders felt that the Chandy government had given more representation in the ministry to Christians and Muslims although Hindus constitute the majority.

Both the Nairs and Ezhavas once had their own political parties.

The Nair outfit was known as the National Democratic Party. The SNDP’s political front was the Socialist Republic Party. It was part of the Congress-led alliance.

The Chandy cabinet consists of six Muslims and Christians each, four Nairs and three Ezhavas besides a Dalit and a tribal each.