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Cracks in Kerala BJP back in the open as state party V-P airs her disappointment

I'm sure I have membership in core committee in hearts of people, says Sobha Surendran on visit to Delhi after she was not included in party's state core committee

Kerala BJP vice-president Sobha Surendran (Facebook/Sobha Surendran)

The internal differences in the Kerala unit of the BJP seem to be intensifying, with state party vice-president Sobha Surendran publicly expressing her disappointment regarding her exclusion from the state core committee of the BJP.

Surendran is currently in New Delhi where she is set to meet National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma to seek action against Kerala CPI(M) leaders on the basis of allegations levelled by gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh. The visit comes amid criticism that the Kerala BJP unit had failed to corner the ruling CPI(M) over the gold smuggling case — the fallout from the case has seen allegations being made against top leaders and officials of the Kerala government.

In the national capital, Surendran did not hide her unhappiness about the state BJP leadership’s decision to not include her in the core committee.

“As far as I am concerned, I have been working with the BJP since 1995 in different roles. I have worked as a BJP leader even in the areas considered as Communist bastions, long before the party became influential in Kerala’s political scene,” she said.

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“There is a core committee for the BJP in the hearts of people in Kerala, and I am sure I have a membership there,” she told The Indian Express.

Surendran, an active member of the RSS since her teenage days, was state general secretary of the BJP before taking on the role of vice-president. She was dropped from the National Executive last October.

She said she was happy that Suresh Gopi, the actor-politician and a former Rajya Sabha MP, was inducted into the core committee of the state BJP.

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On the allegations raised by Swapna Suresh against CPI(M) leaders, she said she would take up the issue with the NCW chairperson.

“The CPI(M) leadership is trying to divert attention from the issue by locking horns with Governor Arif Mohammad Khan. The allegations raised by Swapna are serious. As a woman leader, I have a responsibility to see that action is taken against them. The Kerala CPI(M) leadership and the Chief Minister (Pinarayi Vijayan) are silent on it,” she said. Surendran said she had written to the NCW earlier about the issue.

“It was Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi ji who asked me to work for the people of Kerala. So, as vice-president of the BJP (state unit), I can take up these issues with the concerned authorities,” she said.

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On October 21, in interviews to Malayalam TV channels, Swapna Suresh had alleged that former state Finance minister Thomas Isaac, former Temple Affairs minister Kadakampally Surendran and former Assembly Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan had sought sexual favours from her. Isaac and Kadakampally had served in the LDF government in the state from 2016 to 2021.

On Sunday, Surendran also met Governor Khan, who is also in New Delhi. Asked about the meeting and the hour-long discussion, she said, “As a public person, I have the right to discuss any issue with the Governor, who is popular and who has concerns about the state of affairs in Kerala.”

There has been internal criticism in the BJP that the Kerala unit, deeply divided with different factions led by senior leaders in constant conflict, has failed to take up the “serious allegations” against CPI(M) leaders and the Chief Minister, whose family members have faced allegations in the gold smuggling case.

The BJP had opened its account in Kerala in the 2016 Assembly elections, but drew a blank in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and the 2021 Assembly elections.

First published on: 30-10-2022 at 20:13 IST
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