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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Kerala BJP set for faction feud: Leaders slam new state chief

Almost every senior BJP leader in the state expressed displeasure over the appointment, which they said was done without seeking their opinion.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: February 26, 2020 3:50:22 am
Kerala BJP chief K Surendran. (File Photo)

The appointment of K Surendran as president of Kerala BJP seems to have refreshed the intense factional feud and discontent in the party’s state unit, as many leaders declare their unwillingness to cooperate with the new chief.

Almost every senior BJP leader in the state expressed displeasure over the appointment, which they said was done without seeking their opinion. Some district leaders have even threatened to quit the party if Surendran goes ahead with his choice for district presidents.

State general secretaries M T Ramesh, A N Radhakrishnan and Sobha Surendran, as well as former state unit chief Kummnam Rajashekharan, stayed away from celebrations of Surendran’s appointment.

With Surendran getting the nod to go ahead with his organisational revamp decisions, there could be more voices of discontent. Surendran is set to appoint office-bearers, including general secretaries and vice-presidents, soon.

Ravish Thanthri Kuntar, district president of Kasargod unit who finished second in the Lok Sabha election from the constituency, has declared that he would quit politics after “realising” that those who do not follow any faction cannot grow in the party. Kuntar’s public outburst came after Surendran decided to replace him with his own choice as the Kasargod unit president, sources in state BJP said.

The district leadership of Kottayam and Kannur are also learnt to have expressed displeasure with changes Surendran has made.

Factional feud has been plaguing BJP’s Kerala unit for long, and the party’s poor electoral performance in the state is often attributed to it. While the party’s national leaders had issued strict warnings against factionalism, and repeatedly called for working together, state leaders point out that the central leadership does not take everyone into confidence before making decisions such as nominating ministers, or appointing state unit presidents.

“A key central (BJP) leader who has crucial say in the functioning of party units in the region is exercising undue influence on the appointments,” a leader claimed.

Explained

Dissonance overload

Factional feud has been plaguing BJP’s Kerala unit for long, and the party’s poor electoral performance in the state is often attributed to it. While the party’s national leaders had issued strict warnings against factionalism, and repeatedly called for working together, state leaders point out that the central leadership does not take everyone into confidence before making decisions such as nominating ministers, or appointing state unit presidents.

An office-bearer in the state unit said, “Surendran never bothered to talk to senior (Kerala) leaders or state office-bearers before taking charge. He didn’t also show any indication that he would take everyone along. In fact, his initial steps show that he would serve only one faction.”

At least three state BJP leaders said the central leadership did not take into account that Surendran belongs to the faction of a central leader, and that other leaders were sidelined.

Called back from Mizoram, where he was the Governor, Rajasekharan is said to be unhappy at not being given any responsibility. He was expected to contest the Assembly by-elections last year but was dropped at the last minute.

M T Ramesh was seen as an aspirant for the state unit chief’s post but his supporters alleged that Kerala BJP leaders had raised allegations of bribe against him in a case that disturbed his career.

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