Amit Shah's writ fails as state BJP VP Sobha Surendran prevented from contesting elections in Kerala Assembly polls
Photo: PTI

Thiruvananthapuram: Despite the best efforts of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to resolve the factionalism in the Kerala unit of BJP, the problem is refusing to go away with the state leaders coming up with counter strategies.

State party vice president Sobha Surendran is engaged in a bitter fight with state party chief K Surendran, who is using everything in his arsenal to prevent her from contesting the assembly elections.

With Sobha sulking for most part of Surendran’s tenure as state president, Amit Shah had instructed the state unit to include her in the list. But Surendran, with the active support of minister of state for external affair V Muraleedharan, struck her name out.

The vice-president was apparently resigned to her situation and even announced that she wanted to be excused from contesting as she had other priorities.

However, the central leadership again intervened and indicated that Sobha was being considered for the Kazhakoottam seat, a prestigious constituency for BJP as it had come a close second in the previous assembly poll. The seat is considered a good prospect for the party in the current elections.

Following the signal from Delhi, Sobha announced on Monday that she was changing her decision not to contest and said she was ready to contest from Kazhakoottam, where the LDF candidate is Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran, a key figure in the government’s botched policy of forcing the entry of women to the Sabarimala temple.

Sobha was a firebrand during the Sabarimala agitation and she was probably the best bet against the LDF minister as Sabarimala has come back as a live issue in the poll campaign. The minister even apologised for whatever had happened in Sabarimala, but his apology has only helped both Congress and BJP to turn up the heat on the vexed issue.

The increased possibility of Sobha contesting from Kazhakoottam has prompted the rival faction to come up with another hurdle. It now wants Thushar Vellappally, leader of the BJP ally BDJS, to contest the seat. His name was missing from the NDA list, whether by default or design.

The new turn has introduced more uncertainty about the Kazhakottam seat even as R Balashankar, another veteran BJP leader, alleged that the state party is in the hands of a mafia. He claimed that he had been working for the party for the past 40 years, but his claim for a seat was ignored.

He said he was unable to understand the considerations the state party leaders were going by in taking such vital decisions.

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