Kerala BJP chief K Surendran calls Cong leader ‘Shikandhi’, sparks outrage

Reacting to Muraleedharan’s decision to contest from Thrissur constituency, Surendran used the transphobic slur of ‘Shikandi’ against him.
Congress leader K Muraleedharan (left) BJP Kerala president K Surendran (right)
Congress leader K Muraleedharan (left) BJP Kerala president K Surendran (right)
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Kerala BJP chief K Surendran has sparked a controversy by calling state Congress leader K Muraleedharan a “Shikandhi”, which is often used as a transphobic slur. Shikhandi is a mythological character from Mahabharata who fights on the side of the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra war. According to the mythology, he was a transgender man. 

Surendran claimed that like Shikhandi who fought in the Kurukshetra war and whose only role was to cause the downfall of Bhishma, Muraleedharan’s only role was to split votes instead of winning. Muraleedharan will be contesting from Thrissur – a significant focus for the BJP — against the NDA’s Suresh Gopi. Muraleedharan’s candidature came as a surprise as many were expecting the Congress to field Thrissur’s sitting MP TN Prathapan. 

Surendran who was speaking at the inauguration of the NDA’s booth committee offices in Kottayam said, “The sitting MP in Thrissur has admitted defeat due to the NDA candidate [Suresh Gopi]. Congress replaced him and brought in Muraleedharan to contest instead. Muraleedharan is not a candidate who actually wins, he is like Shikhandi, a candidate who is sent ahead simply to cause defeat.” In the Mahabharata, the Pandavas make Shikhandi lead the charge on Bhishma because they know that the latter would not fight a woman. As they foresee, Bhishma refuses to fight Shikhandi because he was “born a woman”. 

By refusing to fight him, Bhishma is easily defeated by Arjunan who is further back among the forces. 

Surendran said that Muraleedharan cannot win any election in Kerala by being associated with the Congress and instead asked the Congress leader to change the party. 

Following the criticism, Surendran was asked by reporters at a press meet if he was sticking to his stance, the BJP president said, “Muraleedharan is contesting the election to defeat BJP, he is not contesting to win. When Muraleedharan’s candidature was announced, he stated that he was contesting to make the BJP come in third position. Muraleedharan’s approach has consistently been to defeat BJP, rather than to win a seat. He has been sent ahead in order to make the Left win.”

Reacting to Surendran’s statements, Muraleedharan told the media, “I don't need the certificate of someone who has betrayed his own party. He built a bridge with Pinarayi Vijayan in the Kodakara black money case.” He also added that he will defeat the BJP not only in Nemon and Vattiyoorkavu but also in Thrissur. 

Muraleedharan, who is the son of former Kerala Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader K Karunakaran, has meanwhile been in the limelight after his sister Padmaja Venugopal joined the BJP, creating a very public rift in the family.

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