Opinion: Confused and headless Kerala BJP needs new gospel and young blood

Opinion: Confused and headless Kerala BJP needs new gospel and young blood
Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah (C), (Rest clockwise) BJP leaders Kummanam Rajasekharan, K Surendran, MT Ramesh, and Sobha Surendran

Kerala unit of the BJP is still conceptually confused on the appointment of its boss as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) tightens its grip over the organisation, which is in tatters.

Regardless of the names doing the rounds, the RSS state unit and BJP president Amit Shah would be the final word on the man who would helm the BJP in Kerala, which gears for local body polls later this year.

The usual suspects are still in the reckoning but the BJP's dilemma is faction feud. That the state BJP is more or less confined to two or three factions is a known secret.

The national leadership's issue is that it cannot figure out how to deal with this systemic rot and surge ahead in a state which has so far refused to entertain the saffron party's overtures.

Kerala remains a fortress which it has failed to breach and Amit Shah has more than enough reasons to worry about the party's isolation in the state's social spectrum despite a perceived opposition space.

The ground realities are harsh from the local BJP's point of view.

The BJP leaders here know they can't justify the Centre's controversial policies, which triggered a wave of rebellion that is sweeping the country.

Be it CAA or NRC, there is absolute opposition in this southern tip of the country.

But there is no local leader of stature who could tell Amit Shah that the one-size-fits-all strategy doesn't work in Kerala.

When the Congress was swept away by mass anger post Emergency, Kerala stood behind it. So what could be done to gain a foothold other than having a lone MLA?

The options are shrinking. The BJP, as probably its national leadership believes, should dismantle its factions, a task easier said than done. Then, the cadres, mostly RSS men, can take over.

All BJP men are RSS workers, some say though it isn't the case. The RSS is tightening its grip in the state unit and the BJP central leadership cannot do away with that.

In this scenario when the party is in a huddle to pick a new boss who can come up with an elixir, the RSS is likely to get a major say as Amit Shah arrives soon to sort out the mess.

One indication of the national leadership's line of thinking is the way they have airlifted some key players to various posts at the centre.

But the roots remain here. So there could be a surprise element in store when the BJP president announces the party's next Kerala chief. It cannot go on pleasing factions again and again a la Congress.

A majority of district-level key posts will go to hardcore RSS men, mostly youth.

The state top boss's post is Amit Shah's vexed issue. The party is already losing ground in its bastions in the north post CAA and hence Amit Shah would move heaven and earth to make some sort of an impact in states which the BJP otherwise doesn't count much in its electoral scheme of things.

For Amit Shah to fix this issue, he can't bank on old guard. Shah will have to shed his authoritarian ways and definitely do some balancing act vis-a-vis middle level functionaries, but would have to wield the stick itself while picking the top man of the BJP in the state who would have to steer the party as the local body and assembly polls loom.

That is a herculean task even by Amit Shah's touted capabilities as a master strategist.

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