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Graft row: Kerala BJP chief to meet top leaders today

Kerala BJP president K Surendran, who is embroiled in a controversy over a highway robbery case before the Assembly polls, as also faces allegation that a BSP candidate was paid bribe and made to withdraw from Manjeshwaram constituency, from where he contested the polls unsuccessfully, is expected to meet the party’s national leaders on Wednesday.

Sources said Surendran arrived in the national capital on Tuesday evening.

With the BJP state unit under a cloud of alleged hawala transactions and struggling with intensifying factionalism, Surendran is expected to discuss with the national leadership strategies for the state unit and the way ahead, sources said.

While rival faction leaders in the state said Surendran has been summoned by the BJP central leadership and called it an indication of a possible leadership change in the state unit, party leaders did not confirm if he had been asked to come to Delhi.

Unhappy over the developments in the state unit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah had asked an independent panel of three retired bureaucrats, who are working closely with BJP, to probe and submit a report on distribution and use of election funds to the party. On Monday, The Indian Express had reported that the panel members — V Amanda Bose, Jacob Thomas and E Sreedharan — have submitted their individual reports to Modi.

Several BJP leaders are being probed by Kerala Police in connection with a robbery of Rs 3.5 crore, suspected to be unaccounted-for election funds. The police have already questioned senior party leaders and even the personal aide of Surendran in the case.

The latest development comes in the middle of growing demands for a change of leadership in the Kerala unit after BJP faced a humiliating defeat in the recent Assembly elections — it lost Nemam, the only seat the party had won in 2016, and saw its vote share slip from 14.4 per in 2016 to 11.3 per cent this time.

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