K Surendran
K Surendran Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

The 51-year-old K Surendran is a seasoned politician currently at the helm of BJP in Kerala as the party president. He has been there at the forefront of all the agitations that BJP has taken up recently in Kerala, be it its campaign against beef-eating in a state of predominantly meat-eaters or pouring oil in the protests over Supreme Court order allowing entry of women into a Kerala temple, Sabarimala. Despite his seemingly earnest intentions, what this chemistry graduate has gone on to provide was comic relief to most of the Keralites.

It is doubtful even the BJP central leadership has given him any serious consideration other than a mere particle occupying a space, this time that of the president. The latest snub he had to endure was concerning the all-important position of ‘BJP chief minister candidate for Kerala’ in the elections where the party has so far got only one seat. Surendran openly proposed that his latest find E Sreedharan will be the chief minister candidate of the party, only to eat his own words the very next day with nothing but some bitter sauce from the party high command.

Tough job at hand

That he goes overboard in his actions cannot be blamed on him. For Surendran is tasked with creating the footprint for a party that has only managed to create a fingerprint in Kerala, despite playing out all the tricks in the BJP’s communal bag. Things can be quite frustrating.

That frustration in the BJP ranks is palpable all over the state. Just the other day, a BJP candidate from Chengannur, central Kerala, has entered a martyr memorial of the communist party to openly proclaim the historic Punnapra-Vayalar uprisings was a fake one. The fellow himself could not have expected to escape from the scene without being mauled by public. However, to his own surprise, not even a stone was hurled at him.

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The intentions of the BJP are all too clear: To incite and create violence in the state and play the victim card which would then act as a dog whistle for the BJP central leadership to descent on Kerala and the ‘commie government’. Like what is happening in West Bengal. From TV-actor-turned politicians to the defense minister to the PM are there, to wrest the state for the saffron party.

An issue of credibiltiy 

There are two incidents that marked the career of K Surendran for the Kerala public. The first one involves a photo of Surendran purportedly eating a beef dish in a restaurant, circulated over social media, at the peak of BJP’s protest against eating beef in the state. To this day, Surendran claims he was eating nothing but onion curry, but the damage had already been done and he has earned a new nickname in the process.

The other incident was related to Sabarimala and eroded whatever credibility he has in the public sphere. K Surendra was at the forefront of Sabarimala agitations and was arrested while attempting to enter the shrine in the pilgrim’s attire. That much was true. However, he had alleged that the police mistreated him and threw the sacred irumudi kettu (a bundle containing offering to the deity) to the ground. A video later emerged showing Surendran himself throwing the bundle to the ground, bunking both his claim of police highhandedness and his own reverence to the deity.

An MLA at last?

Despite all this, Surendran has a strong chance of being an MLA this time. Remember he had lost Manjeshwar seat, in the northern Kerala, to Indian Union Muslim League’s Abdul Razak for only 89 votes last time (2016). So his chances are strong here. This time he is contesting from one more seat, Konni. BJP hopes to cash in on the Hindu religious polarization in Pathanamthitta, which was the epicenter of the Sabarimala agitation. There are miles to go before realizing this dream though. In the 2019 by-election to Konni, CPI-M had managed to wrest the seat from Congress after 23 years. That was right after the Sabarimala agitation. Surendran contested in 2019 and failed to make much impression in the by-election.

Main rivals  

Constituency: Manjeshwar

AKM Ashraf (IUML)

VV Rameshan CPI(M)

Constituency: Konni

KU Jinesh Kumar CPI(M) - Sitting MLA

Robin Peter (INC)