The dithering of the BJP to announce its candidate for the Pathanamthitta constituency, what it sees as a prized seat, has brought to the fore group bickering similar to what is seen in the Congress.
Out not to please any one group, the party now proposes to spring a surprise by making a prominent Congress leader crossover and emerge as the party candidate in Pathanamthitta. There is likelihood of a leader from the Christian community being made the candidate, according to party sources. This should square the claims of different groups, they add
Party leader MT Ramesh, at one-time a contender for the Pathanamthitta ticket, went public to say he had little explanation for the party central leadership's failure to announce the candidate when just one name, that of K Surendran, was suggested.
The group led by V Muraleedharan, MP, is equally displeased and feels the delay will affect the party's chances of a win there.
While the delay is being attributed to the NDA constituent, BDJS, yet to announce the candidature of Thushar Vellappally for the Thrissur constituency, already allotted to it, a section in the party admits that strife within is at its peak.
If Thushar pulls out of the race, Surendran will be fielded from Thrissur as BJP has allotted the seat to BDJS on condition that Thushar should be the candidate. This should also satisfy Pillai as would become the natural choice for the seat.
BDJS is a political arm of the Ezhava community's Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam. Thushar's father Vellappally Natesan now does not seem to be against his son contesting from Thrissur. Though initially he was against his son contesting as SNDP has publicly sided with the Left Democratic Front, Vellappally has diluted his stance saying the choice was that of his son, who he added, had become a ‘strong organisation leader’. Vellappally, known for his ‘firmness’ in changing stands at astounding pace, has of late been supporting the LDF. With his son contesting in the election, this support to LDF could also undergo a change. He refused to support his earlier stand that any SNDP office-bearer standing for election would have to relinquish the organisation post. He now says "it is a matter to be decided later" and what he said earlier was just a 'personal opinion’.
For the BJP, Pathanamthitta, the heartland of Sabarimala where it succeeded in launching an agitation against the Supreme Court verdict on young women entry to the shrine and gaining some foothold among the Hindu community, is one constituency where it expects to make inroads.
Party state president PS Sreedharan Pillai has remained a frontrunner for the party ticket. He appears unhappy over the party central leadership backing the RSS for Surendran, who emerged a 'hero’ after the agitation. He has the backing of the RSS which has been instrumental in taking vital decisions, including bringing in Kummanam Rajasekharan after making him resign the Mizoram Governor post.
The CPM has been hounding Surendran and has succeeded in getting several cases slapped against him over the Sabarimala violence. Clips of his dropping of the 'irumudikettu’, the pouch of puja articles carried by the pilgrim, twice and the police picking it up would also be used against him by the CPM, the BJP fears.
A section in the party says that with Pillai nearly out of the race, the anti-Surendran faction will do all to ensure that 'Sabarimala hero’ too is not in the race.
Given the community composition of the constituency, there is the argument that the candidate should either be from the Nair community or a Christian. With none in the party of prominence from the last category, the BJP state leadership is out now to rope in a prominent Congress leader from the Christian community.
This should not only put the Congress on the defensive, but also see that none from either of the rival groups makes it as the party candidate.