It was a huge surprise, if not shock for fellow party workers when Kerala BJP President Kummanam Rajasekharan was appointed as the Governor of Mizoram. That day, on May 29, the campaign for the bye-election at the Chengannur Assembly constituency was at its peak. Kummanamâ€™s elevation to the plum post has not been seen as due recognition by many.
The BJP top brass had picked Kummanam to lead the party in Kerala in 2015 for he wears Hindutva on his sleeve. The appointment of Kummanam, who had till then worked as the state president of the Hindu Aikya Vedi, as BJP state president, also came as a surprise for he was in no way active in the party activities.
Now, the heated discussion among the BJP rank and file is who would succeed Kummanam, a hardcore face of Hindutva. The names doing the rounds are K Surendran and AN Radhakrishnan, party general secretaries in the state. Among the two, Surendran stands a better chance.
Surendran has been a vibrant face of the party in the state from the time he worked as the Yuvamorcha state president. Surendran has done active work in both the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Kasargode, the northern district of the state. He and his followers are even sure of the victory.
Surendran is active on social media platforms and attacks his political opponents vehemently, often coming under scathing criticism by his rivals, in return.
â€śOrganisational skills, intervention in public issues, the experience of working for the party even in Karnataka and the image of a vibrant leader he built since the time as president of the Yuvamorcha makes him an apt choice for the post. He also has the backing of majority of the party people,â€ť a source said. However, Surendran lacks the backing of the RSS.
Kummanamâ€™s Governorâ€™s post also didnâ€™t have the backing of the RSS. The party may not make another move which attracts the wrath of RSS, but the acceptance of Surendran among party workers may be the deciding factor.
Radhakrishnanâ€™s name was not in the initial round of discussions but later, he came into the reckoning. People like MT Ramesh, another general secretary, declared support for AN Radhakrishnan. Seniority gives Radhakrishnan an advantage over Surendran.
PS Sreedharan Pillai
The name of former state president PS Sreedharan Pillai has also been doing the rounds. The factors favourable for him are his secular face and his acceptance as an author. â€śTrue that being secular is not a quality that pleases people with hardcore Hindutva ideology. But the party has to gain support of the minorities as well. The BJP made Alphonse Kannanthanam, a Christian, Union Minister to appease the minorities. Sreedharan Pillai got 42,682 votes in the 2016 Assembly election while the Congress got 44,897 votes. In the bye-election held in May, though he got less -35,270 votes-, the vote share he got canâ€™t be ignored considering the fact that BJP is still not a big force in the state,â€ť the source said.
However, his less aggressive nature may act as a disadvantage for Sreedharan Pillai.
When TNM contacted Surendran, he said that the decision has to come from the top and nothing has been decided yet.