BJP leader Vanathi Srinivasan who was included in the party’s Central Election Commission (CEC) on Wednesday is one of the party’s senior woman leaders and the national president of the Mahila Morcha, its women’s wing.
The 52-year-old has close ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). She was mentored by Pon Radhakrishnan, a veteran BJP leader from south Tamil Nadu who has been on the sidelines since new leaders such as Tamilisai Soundararajan, L Murugan, and current state president K Annamalai emerged. Srinivasan’s home turf is Coimbatore South, which she represents in the Assembly. She is one of the party’s four MLAs in Tamil Nadu.
Srinivasan’s entry into politics was through a Vivekananda study circle that the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a students’ organisation affiliated to the RSS, ran on college campuses. A moderate figure in the party like former BJP state chief Soundararajan, she lost the 2011 Assembly election from Chennai’s Mylapore constituency and then again from Coimbatore South in 2016. She won the Assembly polls last year in her third attempt.
Srinivasan’s political career for long was stalled because of factionalism in the state unit and her association with Radhakrishnan’s group. Since she hails from a region that did not do well during demonetisation and due to the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the BJP leader faced the heat because of the policies. Srinivasan was on the receiving end every time MSMEs and industries in the Coimbatore and Tirupur regions were in trouble.
Those close to the BJP leader said one of her biggest challenges in the two Assembly elections that she lost was the indifference of some leaders, all of them men. In an interview with The Indian Express last year, Srinivasan said women leaders face problems everywhere. “I also have problems, troubles … Even now I am facing it. But I see it as a mix of many good and bad things that can happen in a family … That is why I don’t talk about these issues outside. Some rivals became friends later, and opposing parties themselves became allies. So, I focus only on serving people. Time will change, I believe that my destiny is in my hands.”