Intra-party tensions reportedly reignited at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s core committee meeting in Kochi on Sunday.
By some accounts, at least two leaders, purportedly P.K. Krishnadas and Sobha Surendran, pushed for a leadership change in the State to repair the party’s tattered image.
No BJP leader was available for comment. But the closed-door conference triggered media speculation that the two leaders tore into the State leadership for the poor showing in the 2021 Assembly elections. They also demanded an organisational revamp based on merit and not on factional loyalties.
The meeting was of some political import as the committee convened in the wake of BJP vice president A.N. Radhakrishnan’s fact-finding report on the party’s dismal electoral performance.
The report remained largely confidential. Nevertheless, some insiders claimed that “over-reliance” on the Bharatiya Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) votes, which gravitated overwhelmingly to the LDF, had put paid to the NDA’s hope of increasing its vote share despite contesting in 115 seats.
Moreover, they felt the BJP’s election strategy had offered little incentive for the Nair community, the party’s traditional base, to choose the NDA over UDF electorally.
For one, the BJP could not capitalise on the Centre’s extension of reservation in jobs and seats in publicly funded educational institutions for economically weaker sections among the forward castes. BJP leaders from the Vishwakarma and Nadar communities also reportedly felt sidelined.
The party could not reap significant political dividends from the Central Travancore Christian community, despite its “newfound affinity” with the security and economic agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Consequently, despite the sizeable treasure and national effort invested in campaigning, the BJP was beaten into third place by the incumbent LDF and “shaky” UDF. Except for recurrent and blunt attacks on the LDF and parroting about protecting Sabarimala tradition, the BJP’s campaign had little else to offer.
Often, the party’s electioneering appeared strident. “A Vajpayee kind of moderateness as reflected in the candidature of technocrat E. Sreedharan might have resonated more among Kerala voters,” a party person said.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, BJP State president K. Surendran, O. Rajagopal, Kummanam Rajasekharan, T. Ramesh and others attended.