The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) councillor strength in the Greater Chennai Corporation increased to two with Leo Sundaram, an independent candidate who won the urban local body polls from ward 198, joining the saffron party on Monday.
Sundaram, who contested the elections in February as an independent after failing to get an All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) ticket, joined the BJP in the presence of state president K Annamalai and other senior leaders.
Sundaram, who had earlier served as the zonal chairman in 2011, had contested on an AIADMK ticket in the 2016 Assembly elections from Sholinganallur constituency. Speaking to indianexpress.com, he said that the AIADMK had not given him a ticket for the local body polls, so he contested on his own and won. He then approached the AIADMK again but they refused to take him in the party.
“I had been part of the AIADMK for over two decades. I was inspired by Amma (J Jayalalithaa) and never wanted to leave the party even in its toughest period. I was denied a seat in the 2021 Assembly election but that did not bother me a lot. I thought the party would consider me in the urban polls but again they did not provide me the opportunity due to internal politics in our district,” Sundaram said.
“Despite meeting Edappadi K Palaniswami, nothing worked in my favour. He listens to the district secretaries and makes decisions,” Sundaram added. “I had been receiving an invite from Annamalai to join the BJP, now I have taken that decision. Close to 5,000 people will join BJP in a couple of days, everyone will move here,” Sundaram further said.
The BJP, which had a poor show in the rural local body polls, exhibited a modest performance in the urban polls held in February. BJP candidate Uma Anandhan (66), who contested from ward 134 in the West Mambalam area in the Kodambakkam zone, defeated the Congress candidate by a margin of more than 2,000 votes, helping the saffron party enter the Chennai Corporation for the first time.