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BJP author in Cong press

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov. 20: A Congress publishing house in Kerala has brought out a book by a BJP leader, unsettling his party but not the author who suggested it was “normal”.

The Congress, too, argued that it was above “sectarian” considerations and that there was nothing wrong in publishing P.S. Sreedharan Pillai’s book about a rebel CPM leader’s murder.

“It is only a collection of articles published in various newspapers. They asked me for the content and I obliged. Senior leaders in the party were in the know of it,” Pillai, a former chief of the BJP’s state unit, told The Telegraph.

He downplayed reports of a rift in the party. “I’m a lawyer and even the CPM and Congress workers come to me sometimes for legal matters. If that is normal, I don’t think there is anything wrong in a Congress publishing house bringing out the book.”

But reports earlier in the day quoted V. Muraleedharan, the current BJP state chief, as saying that Pillai’s move was apparently motivated by commercial interests.

The comment was seen as a sign of differences in the leadership. But Pillai, a BJP national executive member, argued that “the party president was only saying that my choice of a good publisher was to ensure that more books were sold”.

Onchiyam, Oru Marana Warrant (Onchiyam, A Death Warrant), brought out by Priyadarshini Publications, even has a foreword by Ramesh Chennithala, the state chief of the ruling Congress. Chennithala was present at its release, held as part of a book exhibition organised by Priyadarshini, yesterday.

Chennithala justified the move saying the publishing house was above “sectarian views” in promoting writers of different political backgrounds and would also bring out the writings of a Marxist leader. Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson P.J. Kurien and former MP Thalekkunnil Basheer, both senior Congress leaders, shared the dais.

T.P. Chandrasekharan, who headed a breakaway CPM faction, was killed on May 4 this year, allegedly at the behest of his rivals. Though the state Congress used the murder to corner the CPM, the BJP was accused of keeping a low profile. Pillai, though, had criticised the Left party.

The murder preceded a hotly contested byelection in Thiruvananthapuram. Congress leaders claimed the BJP was reluctant to make the killing a poll issue with an eye on CPM votes for its candidate, former Union minister . Rajagopal, who would have opened his party’s account in the Assembly if he won.

Pillai has been in the spotlight earlier for allegedly deviating from the party line on several issues.