By P. Sreekumaran
BJP president Amit Shah’s much-hyped ‘mission Kerala’ has turned out to be a dismal flop. The crisis bedeviling the BJP in the state had been caused by the unilateral decision of the BJP national leadership to remove former state chief Kummanam Rajashekharan and shunt him off to distant Mizoram as Governor.
The state RSS leaders are livid over the arbitrary decision. They are of the view that since Kummanam was an RSS pracharak, any decision to remove him should not have been taken without taking them into confidence. Although the RSS leaders were not keen on meeting Shah, they relented following the former’s persuasion. The meeting, however, proved a failure as Shah was unable to offer a convincing explanation for summarily removing Kummanam.
Reports have it that Kummanam had to go because he had failed to end the factionalism blighting the BJP in the state. It is an open secret that Kummanam himself was not happy about his ‘transfer’, but left after much persuasion from the central leadership.
The serious situation arising therefrom has delayed the announcement on the new chief. The state RSS leaders – at least a section of it – is said to be keen on reinstating Kummanam. But that is highly unlikely given the factional rivalry in the state unit.
With the Shah mission having failed, the ball will now be in the court of the central leadership of the RSS. It remains to be seen whether the RSS chief will intervene to set things right. It won’t be an easy task, given the bitterness created by the decision to shift Kummanam to Mizoram.
Meanwhile, the state party is sharply divided over the issue of next president. While the faction owing allegiance to Rajya Sabha MP V. Muraleedharan favours general secretary AN Radhakrishnan, the rival faction led by former chief PK Krishna Das wants MT Ramesh, another state general secretary, to be the new president. It is also clear that the opinion of the state RSS leaders would have a crucial bearing on the final decision, which would be announced soon, according to BJP sources.
In the process, the main purpose of Shah’s visit – to discuss the preparations for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections – has run into hurdles. The BJP president has set an ambitious target: to win at least 10 LS seats from Kerala. The constituencies identified for ‘special attention’ are: Kasargode, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Palakkad, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram among others. These are the seats where the BJP candidates put up a reasonably good show in the 2016 assembly constituencies. In fact, BJP opened its account in the Kerala Assembly by winning the Nemom assembly seat from where veteran BJUP leader O. Rajagopal romped home the winner.
Be that as it may, Shah’s dream of making Kerala communist-mukt is bound to remain a pipedream, given the ground reality. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is in disarray, with its principal ally, the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena(BDJS) having adopted an attitude of total non-cooperation. The BDJS made its displeasure over the raw deal meted out to it by the central leadership of the BJP by boycotting the party candidate’s campaign in the recently-held Chengannur assembly bye-election. As a result, the BJP ended up a poor third in the election, suffering a big erosion in its vote base as well.
In view of this murky backdrop, it won’t be an easy task for the BJP leadership to find a successor acceptable to all factions in the state party. The delay would, in turn, further frustrate BJP’s efforts to put up a good show in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from the state. (IPA Service)