A social media warrior of Karnataka BJP who was booked in Dakshina Kannada district in 2017 for making a speech with intent to incite people’’ following the murder of an RSS worker has been picked by the party to contest from Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency over the wife of late Union minister H N Ananth Kumar, a six-time MP from the constituency.
Tejasvi Surya, 28, an advocate by profession and leader of the BJP’s youth wing, filed his nomination on Tuesday.
His name was announced even as Tejaswini Ananth Kumar had been preparing for over a fortnight to contest the polls as the BJP candidate.
On Tuesday, as Surya arrived to seek her blessings, Tejaswini put up a stoic front and said, even as her supporters protested the decision, “The party is opposed to dynastic politics. Ananth Kumar was also opposed to dynastic politics. I support the party’s decision and will work in the interest of the nation.”
A nephew of Ravi Subramanya, BJP MLA from Basavangudi in Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, Surya was seen in a recent social media video in which he purportedly said that the Lok Sabha election is a test of the common Indian’s patriotism”. “If you are with (PM Narendra) Modi, you are with India; if you are not with Modi, you are anti-India. That’s it,’’ he was heard saying.
His name emerged as a possible candidate only last week. The decision to pick Surya over Tejaswini Ananth Kumar is reported to that of the party’s top leadership in Delhi – the state BJP, headed by B S Yeddyurappa, had not proposed his candidature.
Asked on Tuesday how he was chosen out of the blue, Surya said, “This is not a question I can answer. This question should be addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah.” Sources in BJP said the party and the RSS were keen to introduce Surya into electoral politics to prevent a culture of family politics from seeping into the BJP.
The 28-year-old has a reputation in political circles for making “rabid” speeches, and although active on social media and in party events, he hit the spotlight in July 2017, shortly after the murder of an RSS worker in Dakshina Kannada region, when he called the then Congress government in Karnataka “eunuchs’’ in a video that was widely shared on social media.
The case against Surya was quashed by Karnataka High Court in April last year on the grounds that the police failed to inform a local magistrate before taking it up.
Surya also played a key role in a 2017 BJP campaign, accusing the Congress government of facilitating the murder of 24 BJP and RSS workers during its tenure – some of the instances were reportedly false.
Surya will have to rely heavily on BJP and RSS local network in a constituency that has been with the BJP since 1996, when Ananth Kumar won it for the first time as a 37-year-old. Over the years, Ananth Kumar built a network among leaders of all parties to ensure that he remained undefeated despite the Congress putting up candidates such as Krishna Byregowda (2009) and Nandan Nilekani (2014).
For the April 18 polls, Surya will battle the Congress’s Rajya Sabha MP B K Hariprasad, 64, who had contested, and lost, the Bangalore South seat in 1999 to Ananth Kumar.
The BJP currently has six MLAs in the eight Assembly segments of Bangalore South, while the Congress has two in the form of the father-daughter duo of Ramalinga Reddy and Soumya Reddy.