By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Kerala unit continues to be in a self-destruct mode despite the severe setbacks it has suffered in the recent past.
Ironically, the central leadership of the party has remained a mute spectator to the sordid goings on instead of initiating corrective action. An appalling abetment to an unpardonable ‘crime’!
What was widely expected to be a comprehensive reorganization in the wake of the debacle in the Kerala assembly elections turned out to be a mere cosmetic exercise. That was bad enough. What is worse is the totally one-sided revamp including only loyalists of the official faction in the party headed by BJP state president K. Surendran and his mentor, Union Minister V. Muralidharan.
The revamp will see the continuation of all the six general state secretaries. Five new district chiefs – all close to the official faction – have been appointed in Wayanad, Palakkad, Kasaragod, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam. The Thiruvananthapuram unit needed a thorough overhaul in the wake of the electoral debacle in the district. But there has been no change of guard. The reason: the leadership is close to the official faction!
The list of new vice-presidents includes B. Gopalakrishnan, C. Sivankutty and P. Reghunath – all supporters of BJP state chief Surendran. Senior leaders like Soba Surendran and AN Radhakrishnan, who are among the prominent dissidents in the party – will continue to be vice-presidents. But Soba, whose relations with Surendran is severely strained, has been dropped from the national executive of the BJP. Another senior leader and former state president P K Krishnadas has been downgraded. Krishnadas, who was a member of the executive has been demoted as a special invitee. A clear humiliation of the former party state chief. Needless to say, the downgrading of Krishnadas and the unceremonious dropping of Soba from the executive has angered their supporters in the party.
There are already signs that the revamp will not go unchallenged. Former party secretary, A K Nazeer who openly criticized the exercise, has been suspended. It may be noted that former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan and Metroman E Sreedharan have been inducted into the national executive committee as regular member and special invitee respectively. In another significant move, which could have a bearing on the BJP politics in Kerala, union minister V Muralidharan has retained his position on the 80-member national executive committee. The seniormost member from Kerala, O. Rajagopal, has been removed from the committee in view of his advanced age.
It could well be the thin end of the wedge. In a major revolt against the state leadership and in protest against the so-called revamp, a large number of members of the Wayanad unit of the Mahila Morcha, the women’s wing of the BJP, and the Sulthanbatheri Constituency committee have resigned. Ironically, the mass resignations have come hours before V Muraleedharan was to inaugurate the new office of the Wayanad district committee! Sulthanbatheri constituency committee chief K B Madanlal who voiced his displeasure over the revamp has also been placed under suspension. It shows the extent of the resentment building up within the party over the revamp farce. Reports have it that this is only a beginning. The trickle could soon acquire the dimensions of a flood.
The proximate cause for the mass resignations was the appointment of KP Madhu as the BJP’s new district chief. Madhu remains under a cloud as there have been allegations of corruption against him. Mahila Morcha members have also accused him of humiliating them during the election campaign. Obviously, Madhu has been made the district chief only because of his proximity to state chief Surendran. Although many members had complained to the state committee seeking action against Madhu, nothing has been done. To their utter shock, he has in fact been rewarded by being made the district chief. A clear case of putting a premium on corruption and inefficiency.
The totally one-sided revamp has the potential of triggering a full-scale rebellion in the State unit of the BJP. Dissident leaders like Soba Surendran and P K Krishnadas may be lying low for the time being. But it is only the proverbial calm before the storm, say leaders close to them.
Sadly, there is no move to take the rebel leaders into confidence and ensure unity in the party. Instead, the official leadership has undertaken an exercise aimed at marginalising them totally. That way lies disaster. Unless the central leadership wakes up and stirs into action, the BJP in Kerala could slip into political irrelevance. That is the unmistakable message emanating from the chorus of criticism that has greeted the revamp exercise. The central leadership has been forewarned. Is BJP’s national president J P Nadda listening? (IPA Service)