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In Midnight Surprise, BJP Picks Young Face Tejasvi Over Ananthkumar's Wife from Bengaluru South

Tejasvi, a lawyer, is also the vice-president of the state BJP Yuva Morcha. He is known for his strong pro-Hinduvta views and often takes potshots at those who oppose PM Modi on social media and in public forums.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:March 27, 2019, 7:15 AM IST
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Bengaluru: In a surprise move, the BJP has fielded young face Tejasvi Surya from the prestigious Bengaluru South Lok Sabha seat, which was widely expected to go to Tejaswini Ananthkumar, the widow of Union minister Ananthkumar who passed away in November last year. The minister had won six straight terms from Bengaluru South between 1996 and 2014.

The Karnataka BJP had also recommended only one name to the party high command — that of Tejaswini — who is hugely popular in the constituency through her NGO. State BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa had also backed her fully and till last week, the announcement of her candidature was being seen as just a matter of formality.

However, four days ago the local party leaders started discussing the possibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi contesting from there, thus increasing the curiosity and tension in some camps.

The Congress, which was desperately looking for a suitable candidate, finally fielded party veteran and Rajya Sabha MP BK Hariprasad from there. He had lost to Ananthkumar by 65,000 votes in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections.

The candidature of Tejasvi Surya, who is known for his strong Hindutva views, has shocked the Ananthkumar camp.

Tejaswini on Monday tweeted that for her, it was country first, party second and personal life last. Perhaps, she was aware of the fact that the ticket was slipping away from her hand.

According to local BJP leaders, Tejasvi has been chosen over Tejaswini just to target the family politics of JD(S) and Congress. “Tejaswini is a good candidate. But she is Ananthkumar’s widow. She wanted to claim his legacy. Perhaps, our high command thought that it was not appropriate and has picked young face Tejasvi Surya,” said a state leader.

Tejasvi, a lawyer, is also the vice-president of the state BJP Yuva Morcha. He is known for his strong pro-Hinduvta views and often takes potshots at those who oppose PM Modi on social media and in public forums. He is an important figure in the state BJP’s media management cell and has good equations with the Yeddyurappa camp. His uncle Ravi Subramanya is a three-time BJP MLA from Basavanagudi in the same Lok Sabha constituency.

Meanwhile, Ananthkumar supporters have erupted in anger after the BJP ticket to Tejasvi. The young leader also faced “go back Tejasvi” slogans when he went to seek Tejaswini’s.

Tejaswini’s supporters blamed both Karnataka BJP leadership and central leaders for the “injustice” meted out to her, adding that they would support her if she decided to contest as an independent candidate.

However, Tejaswini blessed Tejasvi and extended her support to him. Speaking to the media she said, “Denial of ticket is a minor thing. Let’s not make it big. Whatever BJP says, I will do. I am with the BJP. My husband Ananthkumar was a die-hard BJP man. I don’t believe in dynastic politics. Media may be asking the right questions, but you are sending it to the wrong address.”

Bengaluru South is known to be an anti-Congress seat since 1977. In the last 10 elections, the Congress won the seat only once in 1989. Late chief minister R Gundurao had won by a huge margin then. The seat has been with the BJP since 1991. Gundurao’s son Dinesh Gundurao is the current president of Karnataka Congress and a five-time MLA from Gandhinagara in Bengaluru Central Lok Sabha seat.

Considered a Brahmin seat, Bengaluru South constituency has been represented by only Brahmins nine times since 1977. Infosys co-founder and Aadhaar founder Nandan Nilekani had lost on a Congress ticket to Ananthkumar in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Since the BJP as a party is well entrenched in the seat, not many doubt yet another win for the saffron party. After all, Tejasvi Surya is also a Brahmin. Will he be the tenth Brahmin to win from there? One has to wait till May 23 for the answer.

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