When Tejasvi Surya, BJP’s 28-year-old candidate for Bangalore South Lok Sabha seat, arrived at the start of a roadshow in the constituency featuring BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday, the only slogan raised by the crowd of BJP workers was, “Modi, Modi.” With his minimal experience in mainstream politics, Surya is certainly banking heavily on the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a victory in the BJP stronghold even as the party tries to stem disgruntlement within over the choice of candidate.
With trouble brewing over the picking a newbie over Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, the wife of late local MP H N Ananth Kumar, Shah held the emergency roadshow as part of efforts to unite local party units and leaders.
The party’s surprise decision to nominate Surya is seen as having caused disarray among BJP units in the constituency, with several MLAs loyal to Ananth Kumar staying away from campaign to protest denial of ticket to Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, who had been preparing for weeks to contest the polls. On Monday, state BJP president B S Yeddyurappa held meetings with six BJP MLAs — out of eight Assembly segments in Bangalore South constituency — and convinced them to join forces to support Surya in the interest of the party and Prime Minister Modi.
The state BJP also sent an SOS to Shah to make an emergency stop in Bengaluru. Shah’s roadshow with Surya brought together the six local MLAs, Yeddyurappa, and Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, who had not campaigned since March 26, when Surya’s candidature was announced.
On Tuesday, as part of efforts to stem the crisis, the BJP also appointed Tejaswini Ananth Kumar as vice-president of the state unit.
At the roadshow, Surya said, “Today is a day of political revolution. The word Modi has today taken the meaning of hope in the whole world — it is the hope for a new India. In the last five years, Modi has roared like a lion; he has given shape to our hopes in Delhi.”
Urging people to vote for him as homage to Ananth Kumar and B N Vijay Kumar, a local legislator who died last year, Surya said, “We think youths should not enter politics, but Modi has sent an invite to youths to join politics from Bangalore South. When you can have an IAS officer at 25 years looking after a district, an IPS officer at 25 as a district Superintendent of Police, a captain of Indian cricket team at 26 years of age, you can be a Parliamentarian at 25 years and raise the voice of the youth.”
Local BJP leaders admitted that Surya’s candidature is likely to make life difficult for BJP in the constituency, but they are expecting Tuesday’s roadshow, which brought all key local leaders together, to help their cause. Sabapathy, a local BJP worker, said: “People are upset over denial of ticket to Ananth Kumar’s wife. This boy is not known in the region. Hopefully, people will vote with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in mind.”
A BJP leader said, “Most MLAs here are not happy over the prospect of having an MP who is half their age. A meeting was held on Monday to set things right. With this roadshow with Amit Shah, all will fall in line.”