Plans to field Alphons Kannanthanam from New Delhi constituency

Upset over the acrimonious dispute in the State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Central leadership and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have stepped in to quell the factionalism in the party.

The two factions led by party State unit president V. Muraleedharan and national secretary P.K. Krishnadas have been unable to reach a consensus on the candidates for the coming Lok Sabha polls. At least three meetings held to choose candidates ended in deadlock and the latest one in Kozhikode last week witnessed a group staging a walkout. Another round of talks is slated in Kochi on Friday.

Senior party sources told The Hindu that the State unit had been firmly told that the BJP Parliamentary Board headed by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would announce the list only with the concurrence of the State RSS leaders. The RSS Central leadership had also appointed A. Gopalakrishnan, a functionary of the newly-floated outfit Seema Jagran Manch and former RSS State Prantha Pracharak, to coordinate the activities in Kerala. The seven Vibhagh Pracharaks in the State would also have a say in the selection of the candidates.

As of now, an agreement has been arrived at in two seats — national executive member O. Rajagopal in Thiruvananthapuram and State general secretary K. Surendran in Kasaragod — where the party have a sizable presence compared to other constituencies. Even then the BJP in Kasaragod is facing a rebellion of sorts with either former district president M. Narayana Bhat or his wife Jayalekshmi Bhat preparing to contest from that constituency. “People of Kasaragod want a local candidate. We do not want a candidate imported from other districts,” Mr. Bhat said.

The State RSS leaders also appear not keen on the candidature of Mr. Surendran after the fissure between the organisation and the official faction widened following the re-nomination of Mr. Muraleedharan as the State president.

In the midst of this factional war, it is learnt that Mr. Modi had summoned P.P. Mukundan, the former organisational secretary of the BJP, to New Delhi next week, thus raising speculation of his possible return to active politics. Two spiritual leaders have apprised the Central leadership of the vacuum of a mature leader in the State.

A party functionary said the Central leadership had a strategy to nominate bureaucrat-turned-politician Alphons Kannanthanam from the New Delhi constituency.

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