BJP’s Kerala President K. Surendran faced a barrage of criticism at the core committee meet on Sunday – the first after the party’s washout in the April 6 Assembly elections and as it faces heat over the Thrissur “money heist”.
The core committee has all the four state General Secretaries as members, along with all former state chiefs. With the state party is divided into factions headed by Union Minister V. Muraleedharan, and former state chief P.K. Krishnadas, the meeting was stormy.
BJP sources said that in the meeting, Krishnadas, state General Secretaries A.N. Radhakrishnan and M.T. Ramesh came out heavily against Muraleedharan and Surendran, saying the state leadership failed in arriving at a consensus with all and this was the main reason for the drubbing the party had faced in the elections.
Another charge was that the candidate selection process was opaque and the state leadership failed to field proper candidates, leading to the wipeout. The BJP had drawn a blank in the 2021 Assembly elections, even losing the Nemom seat it had won in 2016.
The rival faction raised the allegations levelled by BSP candidate K. Sundara, who had withdrawn his nominations from Manjeswar Assembly constituency from where Surendran contested, telling the media that he was given Rs 2.5 lakh and a smartphone to pull back. He said that he was also offered Rs 15 lakh, a home, and a wine parlour in Karnataka if Surendran wins.
Surendran and Muraleedharan, however, contended that the party candidates were finalised in the best interests of the party. They also said Surendran was in no way involved in the money heist.
The state BJP is under pressure after RSS worker Dharmarajan registered a complaint at Kodakara police station that a group of people had attacked him after blocking his car on April 3 — days before polling — and looted an amount of Rs 25 lakh from him.
Police arrested several known criminals, and during the course of the investigation, BJP youth wing’s former state treasurer Sunil D. Naik’s name also surfaced. Naik was a close associate of Surendran and the case turned into a major topic of discussion after interrogation of the arrested people led to unearthing of more than Rs 1 crore.
Police questioned BJP state General Secretary, Organisation and senior RSS leader M. Ganeshan, and party state Office Secretary, G. Gireeshan. Sources also said that Surendran’s son Harikrishnan would also be questioned in the days to come.
On Sunday before the core committee meeting, senior BJP leader and former state President Kummanam Rajashekhran told the media that the BJP will not allow targeting of Surendran.
“The CPI-M and the Kerala media is targeting BJP and K. Surendran, and this vilification is the victimization of the BJP and its President,” he said. Muraleedharan also told media that the CPI-M is trying to tarnish the image of the party. The core committee decided to come out against the CPI-M-led state government for the “false charges” being made against the BJP.