BJP yields to RSS’s firm stand

It was the tough stand of the Kerala unit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that forced the BJP’s national leadership to give P.S. Sreedharan Pillai a second chance to lead the party in the State.

After the removal of Kummanam Rajasekharan from the post – he was later made Governor of Mizoram – the RSS State leaders had pulled strings to ruin the chances of K. Surendran, a protege of former State president V. Muraleedharan, from being elevated to the post.

Meetings between the RSS State leadership and the BJP’s Central leadership ensured that the post went to a person perceived to be “neutral” by the two factions in the party led Mr. Muraleedharan and former president P.K. Krishnadas. At the same time, Mr. Pillai is ready to fall in line with the RSS diktat.

Sources said one factor that annoyed the State RSS leaders was the belief that a coterie involving Union Minister for Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan and BJP’s national joint organising secretary B.L. Santosh had played a role in the removal of Mr. Rajasekharan to facilitate the anointment of Mr. Surendran. A report given to BJP president Amit Shah favouring Mr. Surendran was apparently rejected.

Two choices

Then the national leadership had two choices – Mr. Pillai and R. Balashankar, former Editor of the
Organiser
weekly and convener of the BJP’s Intellectual Cell. However, Mr. Pillai got an edge with a Union Minister supporting him, pointing out that he could quell the factionalism in the State unit ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

There has been a power struggle between the RSS and the BJP ever since the party gave precedence for nominating State presidents. This time, the RSS stated that its cadre would remain inactive if their suggestions were not considered.

Sources said the RSS had a love-hate relationship with Mr. Pillai when he helmed the party unit during 2003-06. But the equations have changed since.

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