BENGALURU: BJP’s Central Election Committee took its entire Karnataka leadership by surprise after it picked Tejasvi Surya, a 28-year-old law graduate, as its candidate for Bangalore South constituency. Despite the state, BJP recommending only former union minister Ananth Kumar’s wife Tejaswini for the seat, party national president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are said to have personally handpicked Tejasvi as the candidate for the seat that the BJP hasn’t lost since 1991.
Tejasvi will have a face-off with Congress-JD(S) alliance’s joint candidate B K Hariprasad, who unsuccessfully contested against Ananth Kumar in 1996.
According to party insiders what contributed to Shah and Modi choosing the 28-year-old are: The state leadership’s initial inability to agree upon Tejaswini’s candidature, the RSS-appointed office bearers’ suggestions to pave way for new faces, Amit Shah’s personal liking for the oratory skills of the youngster and Tejasvi’s extreme right-wing stance during appearances on debates and public addresses that suits the BJP central leadership’s narrative.
“Tejaswini has been in social service for decades. She is proud of it and doesn’t mind flaunting it. This was another reason that made the leadership sceptical on whether she would toe the party line,” a BJP office-bearer involved in the process of shortlisting candidates said. However, the argument that the BJP was trying to avoid indulging in dynasty politics by fielding Tejaswini doesn’t hold good since Tejaswi is also the nephew of sitting BJP MLA Ravi Subramanya from Basavangudi.
In Tejasvi, BJP has a candidate who not only toes the party line but can also be moulded to take on responsibilities and stay relevant for at least three decades. “There is a need for the BJP to build a young line of leaders who can fill up the vacuum when it is created. Change in the current leadership is imminent and the second rung of leaders will take over. The party needs new people to take it forward,” an RSS functionary said. In his public speeches, Tejasvi has minced no words in expressing his admiration for Modi and Shah. His social media pages are also witness to it. His public adulation of the two leaders, insiders say, has worked in his favour.
“My hands are trembling as I type this. Last year, I had opportunity to talk to our Hon’ble President @AmitShah Ji. The one hour conversation with him left me so motivated that I couldn’t sleep for a week. His determination, conviction to ideology is infectious. Thank you!” (sic) - Tejasvi tweeted after he was made it to BJP’s official candidate.
My hands are trembling as I type this. Last year, I had opportunity to talk to our Hon'ble President @AmitShah Ji. The one hour conversation with him left me so motivated that I couldn't sleep for a week. His determination, conviction to ideology is infectious. Thank you!— Chowkidar Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) 25 March 2019
Tejaswi has been offered the safest seat for BJP in Bengaluru on a platter with a dedicated voter base that will vote for BJP irrespective of the candidate. While dissent is brewing against him, Tejaswi took the first step towards reconciliation. He took to his social media pages to thank each leader of the BJP — constituency, state and national level — despite senior leaders like R Ashoka, V Somanna and Satish Reddy giving his nomination filing rally a miss.
As if it anticipated trouble, BJP’s central committee chose to make the announcement of a candidate for Bangalore South on the day of the deadline to file nominations giving no time for dissidence, if any, to have an impact.