K Surendran's namesake claims BJP offered Rs 15L to withdraw nomination

K Surendran (left), Sundara (right)

Kasaragod: The BJP's Kerala unit, under attack over allegations of using large amounts of black money in the April 6 assembly polls, found itself in a fresh row on Saturday, with a candidate claiming he was offered Rs 15 lakh for withdrawing his nomination against BJP state chief K Surendran.

Amid reports that the Enforcement Directorate might take over the case, the BJP dismissed the allegations as baseless and said it was a conspiracy against the party.

K Sundara, a BSP candidate of Manjeswaram constituency in Kasaragod district and a namesake of Surendran, had on March 22 withdrawn his nomination papers. Surendran however lost the election.

The similarity between the duo's names is said to have helped Sundara garner 467 votes in the constituency as an independent during the 2016 Assembly polls in which Surendran had lost to IUML nominee P B Abdul Razzaq by 89 votes.

"The BJP leaders asked me to withdraw my candidature. I had asked for Rs 15 lakh but they gave me Rs 2.5 lakh only and a mobile phone worth Rs 15,000. I had also asked for a wine shop in Karnataka if they were able to win the seat. But once the election was over no one bothered to call me," Sundara told the media.

Meanwhile, a BJP core committee meeting will be held in Kochi on Sunday to discuss the steps to be taken against the rising number of allegations against the BJP top brass in Kerala.

Besides withdrawing the candidature, Sundara had also joined the BJP. Manjeswaram was one among the constituencies for BJP in Kerala where the party pinned hopes on winning.

The BJP, however, dismissed the allegations.

"We did not offer him anything to withdraw his nomination. He had publicly explained why he withdrew his candidature. Now he has changed his stance. It seems like someone is coercing him. We doubt that he is raising such allegations due to the pressure from CPM and the IUML," BJP district president K Sreekanth said.

Meanwhile, CPM candidate V V Rameshan, who came third in the 2021 election, today approached the Kasaragod district police chief seeking registration of a case into the matter following the development.

The CPM has accused the BJP of using large amounts of black money in the assembly polls.

BJP Kasaragod district president K Sreekanth
BJP Kasaragod district president K Sreekanth

IUML's A K M Ashraf had won the seat with 65,758 votes, while Surendran managed to bag 65,013 votes. Rameshan got 40,639 votes.

Earlier, a Janadhipathya Rashtriya Party (JRP) leader had alleged that the BJP had offered Rs 10 lakh bribe to the chairperson of JRP, C K Janu, to contest as NDA candidate from Sulthan Bathery. The BJP had dismissed this allegation too.

Meanwhile, in the 'Kodakara havala heist case', the special investigation team on Saturday questioned the driver and personal aide of the BJP state chief.

The investigation team, probing the highway robbery of hawala money at Kodakara on April 3, three days ahead of the state Assembly polls, had questioned RSS leader and BJP state organisation secretary M Ganeshan and party office secretary Gireesh.

The Congress demanded a judicial probe into the allegations against the BJP leadership.

Senior Congress leader K Muraleedharan asked the state government to probe the allegations against BJP state chief and the saffron party.

"Has the BJP chief included the rent of the helicopter in his election expenditure. Also it was the BJP central leadership which gave the money to the BJP candidates. Where did it all come from? All the black money allegations are being raised by the BJP candidates only," Muraleedharan claimed.

The investigators had also questioned BJP Thrissur district general secretary K R Hari and Ayyanthole Area secretary G Kashinadhan in connection with the highway robbery.

According to a complaint filed by Shamjeer Samsudheen on April 7, a gang had stopped his car on the Kodakara flyover here and robbed Rs 25 lakh kept in the vehicle when he was on his way to Kochi from Kozhikode.

Though the complaint had said that only Rs 25 lakh was stolen, the investigators later found that the actual amount could be about Rs 3.5 crore and it was a hawala transaction, police sources said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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