BJP to fly ally V. Natesan in chopper for election campaign

Alappuzha (Kerala) : The BJP will be ferrying Vellapally Natesan, the founder of Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), in a helicopter during the Kerala election campaign, a move that underlines the importance it assigns to its coalition partner.

The national party is hoping this time to open its account in the Kerala assembly in partnership with BDJS.

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The chopper, arranged by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for facilitating Natesan’s election rallies, arrived near here on Friday morning, said a party source.

Natesan would first be flying to the hilly Wayanad district from where he would reach Palakkad where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address his first election rally in Kerala on Friday afternoon.

The state goes to the polls on May 16 to elect the 140-member assembly.

A leader of the Ezhava community which constitutes the majority of Kerala’s Hindu population, Natesan is considered a vital cog in the BJP’s electoral strategy.

He is the general secretary of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP), an organisation that propagates the values of the social reformer Sree Narayana Guru.

He recently floated BDJS, the political party that was made the main partner of the BJP in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Kerala and has been assigned 37 seats for the assembly polls.

The president of BDJS is Natesan’s son, Tushar Vellapally.

The Ezhavas once supported in large numbers the Socialist Republican Party which was disbanded in the 1980s.

Since then the Ezhava community leaders have kept an equal distance from the traditional rivals, United Democratic Front (UDF) and Left Democratic Front (LDF), and negotiated with both for fulfilling their demands.

This is the first time that Natesan is testing his clout in electoral politics and the BJP is the vehicle he has chosen to ride on.

However, it will not be known until May 19, when the votes are counted, whether the BDJS helped the BJP or ended up helping the traditional rival fronts in the state.