Speculation rife over leadership change in BJP

Surendran summoned to Delhi and his position is shaky, say sources

Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) State president K. Surendran’s presence in New Delhi on Wednesday triggered intense speculation about an impending leadership change in the party’s “embattled” State unit.

Some in the BJP have postulated that the national leadership had summoned Mr. Surendran and his position was precarious.

Notably, Mr. Surendran’s trip to the national capital comes against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding and politically touchy police investigation into the suspected role of BJP leaders in the alleged movement and subsequent highway heist of “unaccounted election funds” at Kodkara in Thrissur on April 3, barely three days before the Assembly elections on April 6.

The controversy had also provided a heavy stick to the ruling front and the Opposition to assail the BJP in the Assembly.

Bribery charges

The factional fight in the Janadhipathya Rashtriya Party (JRP) headed by tribal leader C.K. Janu has arguably added to Mr. Surendran’s “woes.”

At least two JRP leaders have accused Mr. Surendran of paying Ms. Janu ₹10 lakh to woo her back to the National Democratic Alliance fold. Ms. Janu and Mr. Surendran have denied the accusation.

The BJP was also struggling to fend off the insinuation that it had paid a Kasaragod resident to withdraw his candidacy for the Assembly seat in Manjeswaram in favour of Mr. Surendran.

A BJP leader denied Mr. Surendran’s position in the party was shaky. He said the leader’s visit to New Delhi was planned and not an “incriminating summons” as made out in the media.

A knee-jerk reaction like removing the party president for a temporary election reversal or a “baseless charge” orchestrated by political detractors had no precedent in the BJP, he said.

At the same time, Mr. Surendran seemed set to utilise the New Delhi visit to turn the tables on the State government by seeking a Central inquiry into the illegal felling of centuries-old and valuable rosewood trees on assigned land in Wayanad. He was due to meet Union Minister for Environment and Forests Prakash Javedakar to spotlight the issue.

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