Ahead of a key bypoll with huge stakes, the BJP in Kerala will find itself on a weak footing as its most important ally, the BDJS, has raised red flags within the alliance. Addressing a press conference in Alappuzha, Thushar Vellappally, the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) chairman, indicated that it would be difficult for it to work with the BJP especially in Chengannur, where a bye-election is scheduled, as there were problems to be solved between the two parties.
Vellappally was livid that a few BJP leaders floated ‘rumours’ in the media about him being prepped for a Rajya Sabha nomination that eventually went to former BJP state president V Muraleedharan. “I have never asked for a Rajya Sabha seat. This is malicious. I will complain to the BJP leadership against such rumours,” he said at the press conference.
Vellappally reiterated the demand of the BDJS for posts in corporations and boards that were purportedly promised to the party by the BJP state leadership. He added that unless these demands were addressed, it would be difficult for them to continue in the NDA. The BDJS leader also made it clear that it harbours no antipathy against either the UDF or the LDF.
Regarding the bye-election in Chengannur, Vellappally said everybody knows how the BJP’s vote-share jumped in the constituency in the last election in 2016. He was alluding to the support of the BDJS in the constituency, which wields influence among the Hindu Ezhava community. The bye-election has been necessitated by the demise of CPM MLA KK Ramachandran Nair in January. The BJP, which was authorised to declare its candidate in the seat, nominated its former state president PS Sreedharan Pillai, who had bagged 42,000 votes in 2016 ending up in a close third position after the Congress candidate.
“If we can discuss these issues within NDA and resolve them, we can certainly continue as an ally. Otherwise, we are prepared to leave,” said Vellappally.
However, Pillai, in an interview to indianexpress.com, expressed confidence that the BDJS will not leave the NDA. He added, “Whatever has been promised to them must be given. That’s what I think.”