Police Case Against Kerala BJP Chief For Allegedly Bribing Election Rival

K Sundara and K Surendran were among candidates vying for the Manjeswaram seat in the northern Kerala that was won by Indian Union Muslim League's AKM Ashraf

K Surendran is the President of the BJP's Kerala unit (File)

Thiruvananthapuram:

An FIR (first information report) has been filed against the BJP's Kerala chief for allegedly bribing a rival candidate into withdrawing his nomination ahead of the April 6 Assembly election.

K Sundara - who filed papers as a BSP candidate - has alleged he was given Rs 2.5 lakh by the BJP to withdraw from the race for the Manjeswaram constituency.

A local court responded to a plea by CPM leader VV Ramesan, and directed the police to file a case pertaining to 'bribery with intent to sabotage elections'.

A police official investigating the case said K Sundara's statement had been recorded and further investigations are underway to see how the money exchanged hands and who gave it.

Both Mr Sundara and Mr Surendran were among the candidates vying for the seat in the northern part of the state that was eventually won by the Indian Union Muslim League's AKM Ashraf.

Mr Ashraf recorded a narrow win - a margin of fewer than 2,000 votes. The CPM's VV Ramesan finished a relatively distant third - over 25,000 votes behind Mr Ashraf.

These allegations against K Surendran are just the latest, with the BJP leader and his party facing quite a few embarrassing allegations, including one by local ally Janathipathya Rashtriya Party (JRP) and another over Rs 3.5 crore in hawala money "stolen" from a car three days before voting.

JRP leader Parseetha Azheekode had accused K Surendran of bribing another candidate - CK Janu - with Rs 10 lakh to join the NDA. Mr Surendran denied the allegation, saying: "Such propaganda will emerge during elections. Neither has CK Janu asked for money, neither have I given any."

Meanwhile, at least two BJP leaders have been questioned over the "stolen" hawala money.

"Probe is underway to find the source of money and various people it was handed to. More BJP leaders are likely to be questioned. We are ascertaining facts," a senior police official told NDTV last week.

This was after L Padmakumar, the BJP's Organising Secretary for the Ernakulam zone and Thrissur District chief KK Aneesh Kumar were questioned.

Mr Surendran has denied all connection between the "highway robbery" and his party.

"This black money has not come for the BJP. It is only because we are 100 per cent confident this has nothing to do with BJP that we have welcomed probe by the police," he said.

The BJP was shut out in the Kerala election, with the ruling LDF winning 99 of 140 seats to claim a historic second consecutive term and the Congress-led UDF picking up the rest.