Manjeshwar poll bribery case: Kerala BJP chief Surendran, others get bail

BJP state president K Surendran.

Kasaragod: BJP state chief K Surendran and other accused were granted bail by the Kasaragod sessions court in the election bribery case on Wednesday.

Surendran and five other party leaders are facing charges of threatening and bribing Scheduled Caste candidate K Sundara to withdraw from the Manjeshwar Assembly election in 2021.

The other accused in the case are BJP state committee member and senior lawyer K Balakrishna Shetty, BJP district secretary Manikanda Rai, BJP's Manjeshwar constituency secretary Suresha Y, former Yuva Morcha leader and Surendran's confidant in Kozhikode Sunil Kumar alias Sunil Naik, and party worker Logesh Londa.

On September 21, when Surendran filed an application to discharge them from the case, the prosecution opposed it by saying that the discharge petition could be accepted only if the defendants were present in the court.

Accepting the prosecution's argument, the Sessions Judge directed all the accused to be compulsorily present on Wednesday (October 25).

After skipping the trial four times, this was Surendran's first appearance in the case. K Surendra was also present in the court.

They were charged with the stringent Section 3 (1) (l) (B) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which deals with forcing or intimidating a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe community to withdraw his nomination papers. Sundara belongs to the Mogar Scheduled Caste.

According to the prosecution, the BJP leaders forced K Sundara out of the 2021 Assembly election in Manjeshwar because he garnered 467 votes as an independent candidate in the same constituency in 2016, when BJP's K Surendran lost to IUML's P B Abdul Razak by 89 votes.

After Sundara withdrew from the election in 2021, BJP leaders gave him a reception at his house and posted the photograph on their Facebook.

Sundara, however, told the police and media that he was threatened and given Rs 2.5 lakh and a smartphone worth Rs 8,000 to withdraw from the election. The BJP argued that he withdrew from the election on his own will.

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