By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: From being a ‘party with a difference’, the Bharatiya Janata Party unit in Kerala has metamorphosed into a party full of differences.
The widening faultlines in the state unit were pitilessly exposed with the BJP unable to name a successor to former BJP state chief Kummanam Rajashekharan, who was unceremoniously shunted off to distant Mizoram as Governor of that state.
As many as three meetings of the state BJP office-bearers have already taken place. But the party is nowhere near finalizing Kummanam’s successor.
The reason for the delay is there for all to see. The two dominant factins in the party led by V Muraleedharan, Rajya Sabha MP, and PK Krishna Das are bent upon having their candidate as the new state party president.
While the Muraleedharan faction wants party general secretary in the state, K. Surendran as the new chief, Krishna Das faction favours either general secretary M T Ramesh or AN Radhakrishnan as Kumamanam’s successor.
The party meetings saw the rift between the two factions coming to the fore. The Krishna Das faction has vehemently criticised the decision to make Kummanam as the Mizoram Governor. They suspect that it was an attempt to name K Surendran, who belongs to the Muraleedharan faction, as the new party chief in the state.
This faction has the support of the State RSS office-bearers as well. The state RSS is not at all happy about the removal of Kummanam from the president’s without taking them into confidence.
BJP president Amit Shah’s move to impose a candidate of their choice without having consultations with the state BJP and RSS leaders has generated a lot of bitterness. Hence the failure to evolve a consensus on Kummanam’s successor. A section of the state BJP leaders has gone to the extent of demanding that Kummanam should be brought back to the State.
They were particularly critical of the timing of the decision to remove Kummanam. It came a few days before the result of the Chengannur assembly by-election was declared. The move, which sent wrong signals, was interpreted as an open admission by the BJP of its imminent defeat in the by-election.
The BJP’s failure to address the concerns of its main ally, the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena(BDJS), also contributed to the party’s defeat in the by-election. The decision to concede the BDJS’s demand for posts in the Centre-controlled corporations and boards came only after the Chengannur election result came out!
If only that party’s demand had been conceded before the election, the BDJS would have actively participated in the BJP’s election campaign. The failure to do so resulted in BJP candidate P S Sreedharan Pillai’ vote share coming down sharply by around 7,000 votes – from 42,000 votes in 2016 to around 35,000 votes this time around. It is clear that the poor sense of timing which marked both the decisions – Kummanam’s removal and conceding BDJS’s demand – took a heavy toll on BJP’s prospects in Chengannur.
No wonder, the Kerala unit of the BJP continues to languish in its blue mood. More than a month has passed since Kummanam was made Mizoram Governor. The failure to name his successor has, unsurprisingly, demoralized the party’s rank and file.
The sense of angst afflicting the party will also have an adverse effect on the move to consolidate the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Kerala. The much-trumpeted move to evolve a third front to counter the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led United Democratic Front(UDF) in the state , ending the bipolar nature of Kerala’s polity, is destined to remain a mere gleam in the eyes of the state BJP leaders and party activists. (IPA Service)