BJP's star move: Suresh Gopi to replace Surendran as party chief in Kerala?

K Surendran and Suresh Gopi
K Surendran and Suresh Gopi

Kochi: Actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi could be BJP's trump card to make the party acceptable to a wider section of the Kerala electorate.

Latest reports say the Member of Parliament could be the party's choice as the new president of its Kerala unit. The current chief, K Surendran, who is smarting after the party's debacle in the recent Kerala Legislative Election could be replaced ahead of the induction of the popular Malayalam film actor who had joined the BJP in late 2016. 

With Suresh Gopi at the helm, the party aims at a major overhaul of the state organisation from the lowest electoral booth-level.

BJP's central leadership has reportedly directed the state unit to reinvigorate the party and establish strong contacts with the public.

An internal probe into the BJP's poor show in the state election revealed that its rank and file don't hold the state leaders in high regard.

The feedback received from the BJP cadres was that there has been a great decline in the party's efficiency and strength in recent times. They have strong dissatisfaction with the style of functioning and performance of several state-level leaders of the party.

The party drew a blank in the state polls, failing to retain the lone seat it had won for the first time in the 2016 polls. The results were the same in the 2019 Lok Sabha election as the UDF cornered all but one seat.

With Suresh Gopi, who is a nominated Member of the Upper House of the Parliament, BJP hopes to develop into a potent force, especially when the opposition space in Kerala politics is up for grabs for competitive parties after the Congress-led United Democratic Front was humbled in the Assembly polls for the second straight time.

The actor has wide public acceptance, especially among the Kerala youth, and the BJP hopes to cash in on this goodwill. Of late Suresh Gopi has been actively intervening in public issues and has almost evolved into the face of the party in the state as its veteran leaders fade from limelight.

Suresh Gopi, 63, a native of Thankassery in Kollam district, is a winner of the National Film Award for the Best Actor. Whenever he had contested both the Lok Sabha and assembly elections he had managed to increase BJP's vote share, though not enough to emerge victorious in Kerala's electoral scene dominated by the CPM-led Left forces and the Congress-led UDF.

'An actor not the right choice'

However, Suresh Gopi refuted the rumours stating that a career politician rather than an actor like him should lead the party.

"I won't be the BJP state president even if K Surendran or Union minister V Muraleedharan decides so," Suresh Gopi said on Thursday.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah too won't ask me to take charge of the party, he added.

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