02/17/2017, 14.18

Hindu ultranationalists growing in Kerala with more than 5,000 meetings a day

Nirmala Carvalho

In Kerala Hindus, Christians and Muslims have always lived together peacefully. The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which won last year’s State election, is open to democratic values. "Kerala could become a model for the national party”.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Kerala, in southern India, is the Indian state with the greatest number of Hindu ultranationalists, Nanda Kumar told the Press Trust of India

Mr Kumar, who heads the Hindu ultra-nationalist paramilitary group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the State, said that every morning some 5,000 meetings are held at local branches (shakhas) around the state.

Fr Paul Thelakat, director of Light of Truth and former spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Synod, agreed with the figures. "The RSS presence in Kerala is widespread, strong and active,” the clergyman said. “Based on their ideology, they are a fascist organisation. However, they are not in direct conflict with other communities, except in Kannur district where they are in a violent conflict with Marxists."

Kerala has had a long tradition of left-of-centre governments led by Congress, until the resounding electoral victory last year of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The State also has one of highest proportions of Christians in the country, about 19 per cent of the local population.

The various religious groups have always lived side by side peacefully and Christian charities operate with the full support of the local government and people.

According to Kumar, the number of RSS youth sections is growing even faster than in Gujarat, a stronghold for the group and its political wing, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which only has a thousand branches. The goal is to increase the number to 100,000.

So far, "relations between the RSS, Christians and Muslims have always been peaceful,” said Fr Thelakat. “Kerala has a long tradition of cordial relations between the various religions."

"The RSS does not want to disturb this model,” he explained. “I think the BJP in this state is different from that in northern India. Here, its political leaders do not offend other religions."

"Kerala could become a model for the national party. India's future will depend on how the RSS is willing to accept democratic values ​​and respect all religions."

"Even the Marxist Party, whose ideology was not at all democratic, has changed its attitude over the years and is [now] open to democratic values. This could also happen to the BJP and the RSS."

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