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By P. Sreekumaran


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A ‘ringing controversy’ over the so-called missed calls is raging in the Kerala BJP riven by factionalism.


The controversy has erupted at a time when the State BJP is making an all-out attempt to give the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the CPI(M)-headed Left Democratic Front (LDF) a run for their money  in the local bodies elections scheduled to be held on November 2 and 5.


The controversy was triggered by a remark from the Kerala BJP president V. Muraleedharan that he was not aware of whether former organizing secretary, P. P. Mukundan and former State president of the party, K. Raman Pillai have rejoined the party. In a sarcastic vein, he said they could again become party members by just making a missed call, a facility now available in the party. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi became a member by availing the missed call facility, claimed Muraleedharan. .


In a prompt response, Mukundan fuelled the controversy, saying that he would stage a comeback if the central leadership of the BJP so desired. There was no need for him to utilize the missed call facility as he is already a member of the BJP, added Mukundan.


Likewise, Raman Pillai contributed his mite to the controversy with a caustic remark that he would not like to be back in the party led by Muraleedharan. Pillai said he backed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, but he was not after any post in the party.


Muralieedharan’s sarcastic comment has drawn flak from the factions in the state unit of the BJP opposed to him. BJP National Executive member Shoba Surendran, who is in the anti-Murali faction, said the return of stalwarts like Raman Pillai and Mukundan would immensely benefit the party.  Former state BJP chief P S. Sreedharan Pillai also identified himself with thre sentiments expressed by Shoba. Every effort should be made to bring old warhorses like Mukundan and Pillai back into the party, he opined. Pillai also belongs to the faction opposed to the state BJP chief Muraleedharan.


The controversy could not have come at a worse time for the state unit of the party. The war of words is bound to affect the prospects of the BJP in the local bodies elections, it is being pointed out.


It must be mentioned that the controversy has erupted at a time when the electoral understanding between the state BJP and the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) has failed to yield the desired results. In fact, the state BJP itself is said to be divided over the move for local adjustments with the SNDP in the local bodies elections.


Reports have it that it is the faction opposed to an understanding with the SNDP which has ignited the ‘missed call’ controversy.


Incidentally, the term of the state BJP chief Muralieedharan is set to expire by the year-end. And a new president would be elected as it would not be possible for Muraleedharan to have a third term as the president because it is against the party constitution.


The anti-Murali leaders in the State BJP have found in the missed call row a convenient tool to step up the campaign against him. This faction thinks that the current controversy, which has irked the central leadership, would prove to be the proverbial last straw. It is an open secret that the central leadership is also not happy about the performance of the incumbent state party chief Muraleedharan. The party has dismally failed to function as a cohesive unit under his leadership. That is said to be the perception of the BJP’s national leadership. The ‘dissidents’ therefore, believe that this is the right time to build their case for a change in the state party leadership. (IPA Service)


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