The battle lines are drawn and the NDA has announced Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad challenger! With many speculations about who the candidate will be, the NDA has announced Thushar Vellappally as the Wayanad candidate. Thushar will contest against Congress party president Rahul Gandhi in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Amit Shah, BJP national president, also tweeted that Thushar Vellappally, president of the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, would be the NDA candidate from Wayanad. The BJP national president referred to Vellappally as a ‘vibrant and dynamic youth leader; who represents the party’s commitment towards development and social justice. Amit Shah expressed confidence that Thushar Vellappally’s candidature would pave the way for the NDA to emerge as Kerala’s political alternative.
For those who are not familiar with the dynamics of Kerala politics, the inevitable question is:
Who is Thushar Vellappally, the NDA candidate set to take on Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad?
Thushar Vellappally is the president of the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena, which is an ally of the NDA. The party came into existence in December 2015. Vellappally Natesan, Thushar’s father is a household name in the state. As per local news reports, the buzz had been that Thushar Vellappally is likely to contest from Thrissur but with the latest announcement, it is clear that Thushar Vellappally is set to take on Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad.
I proudly announce Shri Thushar Vellappally, President of Bharat Dharma Jana Sena as NDA candidate from Wayanad.
A vibrant and dynamic youth leader, he represents our commitment towards development and social justice. With him, NDA will emerge as Kerala’s political alternative.
— Chowkidar Amit Shah (@AmitShah) April 1, 2019
Vellappally Natesan holds the position as the General Secretary for SNDP, which is the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam in Kerala. The SNDP is a social and cultural organisation in Kerala that has played a major role in empowering the community of Ezhavas in the state, particularly in the southern and central parts of Kerala.
The SNDP continues to represent the Ezhava community in Kerala and holds considerable political and social clout across the state. Recently, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and a few ministers had paid a ‘friendly’ visit to Vellappally Natesan’s residence, which triggered political speculation amidst the state government’s stand off with the NSS over the Sabarimala women’s entry issue.
Last year, Vellappally Natesan had strongly criticised the Sabarimala Karma Samiti for having sought protection of the age-old customs of the shrine, referring to it as “not reflecting a meeting of all Hindu sections”. Natesan’s statement specifically referred to the meeting as a united front held by the upper castes of the state.
According to local news reports, Vellappally Natesan had also strongly supported Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on certain issues including the state government’s initiative of organising the Wall of Women on January 1 this year as a symbolic renaissance movement to ensure gender equality in the state.
With Thushar Vellappally becoming NDA’ s candidate set to take on Congress president Rahul Gandhi, all eyes will be on the developing narrative taking place in Wayanad.