THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The chairmanship of a corporation and a state car. Those are the minimum demands for UDF secretary Johnny Nellore to switch to the ruling LDF. Setting political circles abuzz, an audio clip has surfaced of Johnny Nellore — former MLA and vice-chairman of the Kerala Congress faction led by P J Joseph — purportedly requesting the help of A H Hafees, a junior leader of LDF constituent Kerala Congress (M), to secure an entry into the ruling front. Hafees is the state secretary of the Farmers’ Union under the KC (M). According to a source, the UDF leader might have sought Hafees’ help as he is close to LDF convener E P Jayarajan. In the leaked audio clip, Johnny Nellore is heard telling Hafees that he had received offers to join the BJP.
“They offered posts like the minority commission chairman, coffee board chairman, spices board chairman or coconut development board chairman. But I don’t want to go with BJP,” Johnny is heard saying.
“Please think about helping me using your current clout. My minimum demand is a position so that I can answer those who ask why I am leaving (UDF),” he said, concluding the conversation.
Hafees told TNIE that the conversation between him and Johnny Nellore happened last Saturday. He said he has other details too in the form of recorded conversation, including a plea by Johnny Nellore requesting not to make their conversation public as that would damage his political future. When asked why he decided to leak the conversation, Hafees said he and his family members were under cyber attack from UDF workers following the defeat in Thrikkakara byelection.
“They even harassed my younger son who is only nine. Johnny Nellore’s son was leading the cyber attack,” Hafees said. Johnny Nellore denied talking to Hafees and said he would initiate legal proceedings. “I was busy with the ration dealers’ association state conference in Kozhikode. The day when he claims that I had called, I was busy with the conference till 3am. Had I have any such plan, I could have discussed that directly with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan or LDF convener E P Jayarajan. Why should I depend on a lackey like him?” Johnny told TNIE.
He also blamed the cyber warriors of the LDF and the CPM for having created a fake audio and propagating that. Hafees’ move has not gone down well with his party either. Kerala Congress (M) general secretary Stephan George said the party does not have any connection to the audio clip or the discussions surrounding it.“Hafees hasn’t been authorised to speak about the party or to attend news channel debates,” he said.