Two years ago, he used to wield a gun and don the khaki uniform, taking on the bad guys. Now, he wields a microphone, dons a white dhoti and a half-sleeved shirt, and is busy crisscrossing an assembly segment seeking votes.
Life has changed completely for 35-year-old K Annamalai, who quit the coveted Indian Police Service (IPS) to foray into politics.
A 2011 batch Karnataka cadre IPS officer, Annamalai joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in his home state of Tamil Nadu in 2019. In this southern state, the BJP has high ambitions, but lacks support and a strong organisation on the ground.
Annamalai is a native of Karur district in Kongu Nadu region. An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur, he made it big in a short span of just nine years. As the superintendent of police of Udupi and Chickmagalur districts and the DCP (deputy commissioner of police) of Bengaluru South, Annamalai earned the moniker “Singham”.
The word means “lion”, and Annamalai is compared with the fictitious hero — an honest policeman — in a superhit movie with the same name.
However, one fine morning in 2019, Annamalai resigned from his job, returned home, joined the BJP, and declared that he would strive to bring the party to power in Tamil Nadu.
This assembly election, the BJP is in an alliance with the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), and will contest 20 of the state’s 234 seats.
He has been fielded from Karur district’s Aravakurichi, a sensitive constituency where the election in 2016 was deferred over allegations of large-scale frauds. He up against the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)’s Monjanur Elango, a former minister in the AIADMK government. Elango is considered a formidable opponent.
Annamalai, who is from Karur, knows that it won’t be easy for him to win from here. But he is confident.
“I know it is a tough seat. Earlier, money used to play a big role here. I am contesting from here to change that perception. I want to introduce an honest politics to my place. That’s why I have chosen Aravakurichi,” Annamalai told News18.
The AIADMK top brass has directed its local leaders to throw their weight behind Annamalai. With his supporters and local AIADMK leaders, Annamalai is visiting almost every house in the constituency. He addresses at least 25-30 meetings a day, meets thousands of youngsters, and poses for selfies.
He keeps his speeches short and talks about what he wants to do for the people, if elected. His background as an IPS officer and the decision to quit his job with an aim to bring about a change have impressed many.
“The BJP has no base here. But Annamalai is a local hero. Who will quit the IPS job to contest election on a BJP ticket from here? He has taken a huge risk. He is a candidate of the AIADMK alliance. His affable personality, humility, age, IPS background etc. are striking a chord with the youth and women,” said Shiva, a 21-year-old voter.
A Muslim body, Jamaat, has banned his entry to their village, Pallapatti. But Annamalai said he did not need permission to campaign anywhere. “Muslim women are voting me. They are with me. I know that,” he added.
Irrespective of the outcome of this election, Annamalai has decided to continue in politics. “I have not quit IPS to try only once…I will try to change the political system in Tamil Nadu. The BJP is growing fast here. I want to build it,” he said.