It is proving to be a daunting task for the State BJP unit to go full steam against Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P.J.Kurien in the Suryanelli case and get the State government to reopen the rape case.

The party’s State president V.Muraleedharan came out openly demanding a probe into the affair on Tuesday.

It was then that the senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi’s remarks gained attention in political circles. His observation that there was no need for Mr.Kurien to resign came at the most inappropriate time for the State unit. The reasoning that Mr.Kurien was not found guilty ultimately ended up scoring an own goal. It was obviously unnerving for the State president to explain the underlying meaning. “Mr.Joshi had made a passing reference,” Mr.Muraleedharan said, unable to disown the statement from one of the topmost central leaders.

The soft pedalling by the party’s State head is in direct contrast to the strident stand taken by Mahila Morcha, the women’s wing of the party, led by its firebrand leader, Sobha Surendran. The Morcha is all set to march to the secretariat on Thursday. Its prime demand is resignation of Mr.Kurien.

“The (Suryanelli) girl has never retracted her statement. She has been consistent in her stand over Mr.Kurien’s role. The investigating officers never took a statement from her and the case was disposed of on the basis of fabricated shreds of evidence. It is shameful for the country to have a person alleged in rape case in a responsible position in Parliament,” she said.

O.Rajagopal, senior most leader of the party, also spoke on similar lines, but hastened to add that the stand taken by the party president is the official stand of the party. Mr.Rajagopal said the needle of suspicion was so strong that a detailed probe was essential. “The person in question who holds a high position in the democratic set-up, has a moral responsibility to resign from the post,” he said.

P.S.Sredharan Pillai, a senior leader of the party, said it was unfortunate that BJP had been dragged into the issue. He said the central committee of the party was the appropriate forum to take decision on the issue.

A.N. Radhakrishnan, another senior leader of the party, too wanted to strike a chord of unity and said there was no confusion on the party’s stand in the State.

The issue has become a focal point of discussion among the cadres following a statement by K.S.Rajan, another leader of the party. A probe by Siby Mathews, investigating officer, had reported that Mr.Rajan had attended a meeting in a house where Mr.Kurien was present on the day the alleged abuse of the girl had happened. Mr.Rajan has gone on record that the timing as reported in the report was wrong, a response that would have key bearing in any future probe into the entire episode.

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