The burden of hope on Suresh Gopi

Suresh Gopi’s inclusion in the Union ministry should not be seen just as a reward. It’s a reaffirmation of party leadership’s faith in him.
Actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi takes oath as Union Minister of State as part of the NDA government in Delhi.
Actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi takes oath as Union Minister of State as part of the NDA government in Delhi.Photo | PTI

Suresh Gopi’s victory in the recent Lok Sabha election is not only symbolic of BJP’s growth in Kerala but also underlines the burden of hope that rests on his shoulders. He is the sole BJP Lok Sabha member from Kerala and one of only two ministers representing the state in the Modi 3.0 administration. His win can be attributed to a combination of two factors – his personal appeal and the increasing support for BJP among the Kerala electorate, including among the sizeable Christian community. What’s significant to note here is that while the party lost narrowly in Thiruvananthapuram -- where it has been coming second since 2014 -- and came a close third in two other constituencies, its sole, and historic, victory in Thrissur was sealed with a sizeable margin (close to 75,000) and vote share (37.8%), highlighting the importance of Suresh Gopi and his success for BJP’s plans in Kerala.

It’s a fact that even before this election, the BJP was pinning its hopes on Suresh Gopi to open its Lok Sabha account in Kerala. And he delivered what the party desperately needed. Now, he needs to deliver as an MP and minister. The BJP has been making small gains in Kerala in successive elections but those weren’t this significant. This time the BJP-led NDA polled 19.24% votes – an increase of nearly 4% in comparison to 2019. From finishing second in just one seat in 2019 to winning one and finishing second in another in 2024, the BJP’s gains are impressive and it truly seems to have transformed itself from an also-ran to a winnable party. It now has the platform to catapult itself to the pole position in Kerala politics. But that can happen only if it continues to build on its gains. That could be a challenge given Kerala’s unique demography and its historical reluctance to deviate from bipolar politics involving two main fronts led by the CPM and the Congress. That’s where leaders like Suresh Gopi, whose popularity transcends caste, religious, and political barriers, can play a role.

Suresh Gopi’s inclusion in the Union ministry should not be seen just as a reward. It’s a reaffirmation of party leadership’s faith in him. Having said that, it must be wary of his tendency to attract controversies. He must tread carefully and watch his words while continuing to work for the people, as he has been doing, and fulfilling his ministerial obligations. The actor must see this as an opportunity to perform as a politician and help his party in the process. The burden is huge as he carries the hope of people who elected him and the ambitions of his party.

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