The visit of Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial nominee Narendra Modi to Kerala last week may have galvanized the rank and file of the party, but the State unit is not yet out of the woods.
The latest development in the party is the suspension of south zone vice president D. Ashwini Dev on the charge of leaking the speech of Mr. Modi to a television channel through his mobile phone during his meeting with State office-bearers at Mascot Hotel in Thiruvananthapuram.
Now a section of leaders allege that it was not Mr. Dev who leaked the speech, but could be another senior office-bearer whose mobile phone had remained switched on for 25 minutes during Mr. Modi’s speech. The call data records of the mobile phone of this functionary will reveal who the real culprit is. The State leadership has made Mr. Dev, a supporter of State president V. Muraleedharan, a scapegoat in the acrimonious power struggle among the top rung of the party, they say.
Choice of candidates
Another bone of contention between the two warring groups led by Mr. Muraleedharan and national secretary P.K. Krishnadas is the choice of candidates for the coming Lok Sabha polls, particularly in the Thiruvananthapuram constituency where the party has a reasonable chance of victory.
A general consensus has been reached on the candidature of veteran leader O. Rajagopal, who secured over 2.28 lakh votes in the 2004 polls. Many believe that his charisma helped him woo the electorate. Mr. Krishnadas has declared that he would be the chief election campaigner in the constituency.
However, the official factional does not want the 84-year-old veteran to enter the fray. This has rattled the detractors of Mr. Muraleedharan, who is being accused of taking arbitrary decisions. Till now, the office-bearers of Thiruvananthapuram district have not been announced owing to differences of opinion among leaders.
A.N. Radhakrishnan, State general secretary, and B. Gopalakrishnan, special invitee to the State executive, have written to national president Rajnath Singh on the state of affairs of the party in Kerala. It is learnt that all-India organisational secretary Ram Lal and sah-sangathan mantri (assistant organisational secretary) V. Sathish, both Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) nominees in the BJP, have been deputed to visit the State on October 6 in a bid to amicably settle these issues.
The rift between the RSS and the BJP in the State is another problem dogging the party as some senior leaders have already expressed their reluctance to contest the Lok Sabha polls. They feel that BJP candidates would find themselves in a pitiable situation if they contest without the backing of the RSS.
RSS prantha karyavahak P. Gopalankutty and prantha pracharak P.R. Sasidharan have communicated to the national leadership their dissatisfaction with the functioning of the party. Both of them had earlier opposed the re-nomination of Mr. Muraleedharan as State president. It has categorically stated that the organisation will dissociate itself with the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.