Factionalism, RSS stance make choice of Kerala BJP chief tough

Factionalism, RSS stance make choice of Kerala BJP chief tough


The hunt for a leader to take charge as president of the BJP in Kerala appears to be an uphill task given the group equations and the RSS wanting to assert. The party central leadership is to send an emissary on Monday to gauge the mood and try to arrive at a consensus.

It has been a fortnight since the party in the state has been going rudderless after PS Sreedharan Pillai was kicked up as Governor when it drew a miserable blank in the five Assembly by-elections, results for which were announced on October 23.

Earlier, Kummanam Rajasekharan who was heading the state unit, was suddenly sent as Governor of Mizoram and brought back a few months later to contest the Lok Sabha elections.

Trollers are at their best. The question they pose is: "Who is Kerala BJP's next Mizoram Governor?".

There appear no fresh names.  The one doing the rounds is that of K Surendran of the Sabarimala protest 'fame'. His defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha election from Pathanamthitta, the heartland of Sabarimala and prized seat of BJP, did harm his political prospects. During the recent Assembly by-elections, he reluctantly contested from Konni, and came a third. Incidentally, he had lost the Kasaragod seat in 2016 by a margin of just over 80 votes and had challenged it in court. Before a final verdict could be pronounced, the MLA, representing the UDF, died. Kasaragod was in the list of  five seats to which by-elections were held. But Surendran was not keen on that seat as there was opposition locally. Finally, the party forced him to contest from Konni.

He is said to have the blessings of the faction led by Union Minister V Muraleedharan who has 'good hold' in the central leadership.

But this backing alone cannot help as another candidate in the fray is MT Ramesh who has the backing of the faction led by former party state president PK Krishnsdas which has some local clout.

The arrival on Monday of BJP general secretary (organisation) from Delhi BL Santosh is aimed at talking to the various groups to reach a consensus. But the RSS, according to sources, is learnt to have decided to keep away from the deliberations. This would leave Santosh meet the two groups which appear adamant.

As a consensus, the mantle could fall on national executive member Shobha Surendran who is not allied with any group.

There is also a proposal to bring back the party's popular face Kummanam which will not be relished by the RSS which may have the final say.