Kerala BJP chief rejects allegation of bribing tribal leader

Surendran called the charge a bid to insult tribal leader JRS president C K Janu, a prominent tribal face. Janu had contested the recent Assembly elections from Sulthan Bathery.

The BJP Thursday denied an allegation that its state chief K Surendran had paid Rs 10 lakh to the president of ally Janathipathya Rashtriya Sabha to contest as an NDA candidate in the state assembly election, a day after the emergence of a purported audio clip of the “cash deal”.

Surendran called the charge a bid to insult tribal leader JRS president C K Janu, a prominent tribal face.

Janu had contested the recent Assembly elections from Sulthan Bathery. On Wednesday, her party treasurer Praseetha Azhikode had alleged that Janu had demanded Rs 10 crore from BJP state president K Surendran to return to NDA before the election—and finally settled for Rs 10 lakh.

Praseetha, in an audio tape, was heard speaking with Surendran regarding the alleged demand by Janu. Surendran was heard telling Praseetha that she along with Janu can come to the state capital on March 6 to collect Rs 10 lakh.

Reacting to the allegation, Surendran told reporters in Kozhikode that neither BJP nor he required a third party for financial dealings. “At Janu’s constituency, BJP had legally spent money as the party had done in all other constituencies. Who will believe that BJP has offered Rs 10 crore to Janu to become a candidate? The audio tape was tampered. I don’t say that Praseetha did not call me. But the demand of Rs 10 crore had suddenly come down to Rs 10 lakh. Things would get clarity if the audio of the entire conversation is brought out. During the election, many people would have called me. I can’t remember all such calls,’’ he said

Surendran said the allegation aimed at tarnishing the reputation of Janu, a social worker who had worked for Dalits and tribal rights in the state.
“Janu did not call me. She has the freedom to call me. If BJP wanted to pay a sum to Janu and if she required such a thing, BJP could have done it without the knowledge of anyone,’’ he said.

Janu told reporters in Wayanad that she would send a legal notice to her estranged party colleague Praseetha, who had raised the allegation.
Praseetha, however, stuck to her stand. “The audio tape can be subjected to any examination to prove its authenticity. There was no tampering of the tape as alleged by Surendran,” she said.

Janu had floated JRS in 2016 and contested the Assembly election that year as an ally of BJP. Later, she walked out of the NDA and toyed with the idea of joining hands with LDF. As that plan did not materialize, her party returned to NDA on the eve of this election.

BJP wanted to project Janu as the NDA’s tribal face.

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