KASARGOD: The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate in Manjeshwar K Sundara -- a namesake of BJP state president K Surendran, said he withdrew his nomination papers ahead of the Assembly election because he was bought out by the BJP.
Sundara, a poor but popular Yakshagana artiste, said the BJP gave him Rs 2 lakh and a smartphone worth Rs 15,000 to withdraw his nomination. "They gave me the money and the phone soon after I withdrew my papers," he said.
The BJP has denied the allegation. "He should be admitted to a mental hospital," said Satheesh Bhandary, BJP's North Zone (Kerala) vice-president.
Sundara's 'confession' comes hot on the heels of an allegation that the BJP paid Rs 10 lakh to tribal leader C K Janu of the Janathipathya Rashtriya Party to bring her back to the NDA fold ahead of the Assembly election.
The BJP considered Sundara a threat because he had garnered 467 votes in the 2016 Assembly election when Surendran lost by 89 votes to IUML's P B Abdul Razak in the same constituency.
This year, the BSP fielded Sundara because he had got more votes than the party in the 2016 election. But two days before the deadline to withdraw the nomination on March 22, Sundara had gone incommunicado. The BSP's district general secretary Vijayakumar B filed a missing complaint with Badiadka police on March 21 but the complaint was not registered because Sundara attended the phone call of the police.
The same day, a statement was posted in the BJP's WhatsApp group for media saying Sundara was withdrawing his nomination papers because he did not want to hamper the chances of BJP state president K Surendran who "valiantly led the Sabarimala protest".
Even then, when The New Indian Express reached out to Sundara, he had denied the reason.
The New Indian Express then contacted Sundara on June 5, he said Sabarimala was not a reason for withdrawing his nominations. "I had asked for Rs 15 lakh and a licence to run a wine shop in Karnataka. The party agreed to it if Surendran won. But he lost," said Sundara.
But the party gave Rs 2 lakh in cash and a Redmi phone soon after the nomination papers were withdrawn, he said.
The BJP had earlier denied the allegation that it had paid Janu Rs 10 lakh. Surendran had told reporters in Kozhikode that the allegations were an insult to Janu, a tall tribal leader of Kerala.
Several BJP leaders were also being questioned over a hawala heist, in which according to reports, Rs 3.5 crore of black money was robbed at Kodakara bridge in Thrissur on April 3. The money was allegedly meant for the BJP's electioneering in Kerala.
"None of these allegations can be proved in court," said a senior BJP leader in the party. "But the party has become a subject of ridicule in the state," he said.