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Murugan in cabinet, BJP’s new TN chief is 36-yr-old ex-IPS officer who joined last August

Annamalai is known as the blue-eyed boy of BJP General Secretary (Organisation) B L Santhosh, a leader who has started wielding more power in New Delhi in the recent past.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: July 8, 2021 10:18:13 pm
A former Karnataka cadre officer, K Annamalai, is from the powerful Gounder community in Western Tamil Nadu. (Twitter/annamalai_k)

The BJP has appointed former IPS officer K Annamalai, 36, as its state chief, a day after the incumbent L Murugan was sworn in as a Union minister. Annamalai, who quit the IPS in 2019, joined the BJP last August. A confident and articulate leader, he was already holding the post of vice president.

BJP National General Secretary Arun Singh announced Annamalai’s appointment by party national president J P Nadda in a statement on Thursday.

Annamalai is known as the blue-eyed boy of BJP General Secretary (Organisation) B L Santhosh, a leader who has started wielding more power in New Delhi in the recent past.

The former IPS officer is from the powerful Gounder community in Western Tamil Nadu. Though he contested unsuccessfully from the Aravakuruchi constituency in the Assembly polls, he helped the party win two seats in the western region. This helped in Annamalai’s rapid elevation. He is also known for his spirited speeches, often bordering on communal agendas, to take on Dravidian parties.

“The party had won two seats in Southern Tamil Nadu and two in the West. Annamalai had worked a lot and he was also credited for those victories. Nainar Nagendran who won one of the two seats from the south also was rewarded with a legislature party leader post,” said a senior BJP leader.

“Without AIADMK, we wouldn’t have had four MLAs in the assembly. It is the necessity of the party to have a crowd puller like Annamalai as the party is weaker. He also enjoys a fan following among the like-minded youth in the state,” said another BJP leader.

In April, the police booked Annamalai for his alleged remarks intimidating DMK’s Karur candidate during a poll rally. Referring to certain clashes between BJP and DMK cadres, Annamalai had said: “I will break the bones of Senthil Balaji (the DMK candidate) but I am not ready to take that violent route. I am following Ahimsa and conducting these protests in politics. I have another face, the Karnataka face (where he served as IPS officer), which I don’t want to exhibit here,” he said in his speech.

Annamalai’s strengths are his support among the Gounder community, the strong backing by Santhosh, and popularity among the youth. But he also faces a challenge from the powerful Brahmin group in the party and the RSS.

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