'Self-made' Tejasvi Surya key to BJP's 'New India' narrative; Bangalore South candidate ticks all the right boxes
Though part of a political family, BJP's Bangalore South candidate TejasviSurya has neither popped up on the political scene suddenly nor has he been parachuted from some political plane
BJP candidate for Bangalore South Tejasvi Surya is close to BJP national organising secretary BL Santhosh, whose backing got him the ticket
A close relative of BJP MLA Basavanagudi, Surya may have also benefited from his political connections, and, in a way, is part of dynastic politics
However, his defence can be built from the fact that he risen in the political ladder through hard work, including building his own support base
That Surya was picked over Tejaswini, wife of Ananth Kumar, is being projected as BJP’s preference for youth leader and aversion to dynastic politics
Political activism with oratory skills that goes viral on social media, good marketing, the right amount of conventional-media presence, good contacts and a tag of an 'intelligent-white-collar professional', all this put together is helping many aspiring young men and women to make it big in national politics.
Also, it is proving to be a good bet for political parties as these energetic young voices are helping build the narrative with confidence and conviction.
On 26 March, when Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced the candidature of Tejasvi Surya, 28, a young lawyer from Bengaluru, from the high profile Bangalore South seat in Karnataka for the upcoming Lok Sabha election, the obvious lookout was Surya’s personal and political profile. A quick search and scrutiny of Surya’s profile got all the boxes — activism, oratory skills, and social media presence — ticked right.
Surya belongs to a family of politicians, has been a BJP activist for almost a decade now and has good contacts. He is BJP’s social media star and an orator of BJP’s liking. He believes in binaries as evident from one of his speeches, where he clearly states who qualify to be a ‘nationalist’ and who should be marked as ‘anti-nationalist’. And while he has marketed himself as a thinking nationalist, the BJP presents him as a young and self-made leader pitted against the dynasts in Congress.
Surya’s candidature has become a point of discussion for two reasons. Firstly, his nomination is seen as an encouragement to the youth. Second, his nomination in place of Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, wife of the former Union Minister and senior BJP leader Ananth Kumar who passed away last year, is seen as a statement against dynastic politics.
The decision to field Surya is seen as a good move by the BJP, especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scathing attack on Congress, through a blog published recently, where he accused Congress for "lack of internal democracy" and for perpetuating dynastic politics.
The fact that Surya is a close relative of BJP MLA Basavanagudi gives the impression that the young BJP candidate from Bangalore South may have benefited from his political connections, and, in a way, is part of dynastic politics.
However, Surya's defence can be built on the fact that he has neither popped up on the political scene suddenly nor has he been parachuted from some political plane. He has risen in the political ladder through hard work. While this argument has been used with beguiling confidence by 'dynasts' over the years as well, but rejected, it holds water in Surya’ case.
“He was very active in planning the 2011 rath yatra against corruption that was led by LK Advani. He has a very important role to play in managing the BJP’s social media account, especially Twitter. Also as a lawyer, he provides pro bono service to anyone who is related to the party and that has helped greatly in building his image and support base," says a BJP social media team member.
Surya, who started as a general secretary for the Karnataka BJP's youth wing, has also led many protests against attacks on BJP workers and volunteers during Congress rule.
Picking Surya instead of Tejaswini is being projected as BJP’s preference for youth leader and aversion to dynastic politics. It cannot be denied that fielding Tejaswini, whose husband had retained the seat ever since he defeated Congress' BK Hariprasad in 1999 would have been a safe bet for BJP. Her candidature has been recommended and supported by Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa. And riding on sympathy votes, Tejashwini could have easily won the elections. But then it would have created a dent in Modi’s ‘Honesty versus Dynasty’ narrative.
On the other hand, opting for Surya helps the BJP’s narrative of ‘New India’.
Given his age and social media presence, Surya may be able to attract youth support. Surya, who was acknowledged by the top brass of BJP for spearheading the social media campaign for Karnataka BJP during the 2018 Assembly election, is considered close to many important leaders in Karnataka as well.
Mentored by Ananth Kumar himself and being chosen by BJP’s top brass, Surya might not face any dissent from any fractions in the state either. The fact that he comes from a family of BJP leaders and is believed to have an association with the party's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is an added advantage. Also, according to sources, he is close to BJP national organising secretary BL Santhosh, whose backing got him the ticket.
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