Re-nomination of V. Muraleedharan as State unit chief

The State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be heading for an organisational stalemate in the wake of feud between a group led by State unit president V. Muraleedharan and another by a few senior leaders.

The election to the post of party president had been kept in abeyance ever since these senior leaders opposed Mr. Murlaeedharan seeking a second term.

The naming of the new president in Kochi last month had to be deferred following this opposition. Now, the bickering within the party has stiffened after secret parleys by different groups being reportedly held in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kozhikode in the last few days.

Senior leaders such as O. Rajagopal, P.S. Sreedharan Pillai , M.T. Ramesh, P.K. Krishnadas, A.N. Radhakrishnan, and K.V. Sreedharan have come together to resist Mr. Muraleedharan. These leaders have either separately or jointly met BJP president Rajnath Singh. A senior party functionary told The Hindu here on Wednesday that these leaders had expressed dissatisfaction over the Central leadership re-nominating Mr. Muraleedharan. It is learnt that all-India general secretary B. Muraleedhara Rao is flying down to Kochi on February 16 to settle the issue. Usually, the Rashtriya Sweyamsevak Sangh (RSS) has a say in the nomination of the president. Last time, it favoured Mr. Muraleedharan. But, this time, a seven-member RSS core committee, Prantha Karyavahak P. Gopalankutty, and Prantha Pracharak P.R. Sasidharan, is strongly against Mr. Muraleedharan retaining the post.

They had approached RSS national leaders K.C. Kannan and J. Nandakumar to undermine his chance. “The RSS does not interfere with the organisational set up of the BJP though we give our suggestions when sought. We are not opposed to Mr. Muraleedharan. But we have suggested that an opportunity should be given to someone else as there was an opposition to the nomination of Mr. Muraleedharan. We suggested a consensus candidate,” Mr. Gopalankutty, told The Hindu over phone from Kochi.

Mr. Gopalankutty said if the BJP national leadership re-nominated Mr. Muraleedharan, the RSS would not come to the aid of the BJP when it faced a crisis in future.

Incidentally, the differences of opinion have been in the air for more than almost two years against the ‘autocratic functioning’ of Mr. Muraleedharan. Many say the party had weakened at the grassroots without making significant gains in the Assembly and civic body polls. The hostilities grew a year ago when Mr. Muraleedharan and Mr. Sreedharan Pillai, a former State president, began publicly criticising one another over the investigation into the larger conspiracy behind the Marad massacre of May 2, 2003.

Recently, both of them had aired different opinions on the controversial statement of R. Basant, former Judge of the Kerala High Court, on the Suryanelli rape victim.

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