Bengaluru: Calling himself the ‘ambassador of Modi’s New India’, Yuva Morcha leader and lawyer Tejasvi Surya said the two factors that would win over the voters in the high-profile Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency are Modi and he, himself.
The Bangalore South seat, which had been held by senior BJP leader and former Union Minister late Ananth Kumar since 1996, has now been given to the young 28-year-old leader who was caught by surprise when the party announced his name as the candidate for the seat.
“Modi ji and I are two factors in this constituency, but at the same time the votes will be for all three of us, Modi ji, Ananth Kumar and me. The party has reposed so much faith in me. This city and state owe a lot to Ananth Kumarji”, Surya told ThePrint before heading to a late night meeting with entrepreneurs in the Jayanagar Assembly segment.
Surya jumped into the campaigning mode after filing his nomination and since then he has been holding close to 15 to 20 meetings a day. He continues to be surprised that the party leadership zeroed in on his name for the candidature, but also says this shows how the Modi-Shah duo wants to groom new age politicians.
“The way Vajpayeeji and Advaniji groomed leaders such as Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar and others, in a similar way Modiji and Amit Shahji’s era is grooming a lot of leaders of our age. This is how we are also being given a chance,” he said.
A fiery orator
BJP insiders say that he was handpicked by Modi who was impressed by his oratorical and organisational skills. With a huge social media presence, Surya’s tweets and statements have the same tone as that of his party seniors.
Surya had tweeted a link of a speech in which he said, “All anti-India forces have united to stop Modi. While Modi’s agenda is building a new and robust India, their agenda is to stop him. If you are with Modi, you are with India. If you are not with Modi, then you are strengthening anti-India forces”.
All anti-India forces have united to stop Modi. While Modi's agenda is building a new & robust India, their agenda is to stop him. They have no positive agenda.
If you are with Modi, you are with India. If you are not with Modi, then you are strengthening anti-India forces. pic.twitter.com/k0mXzqItrG
— Chowkidar Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) March 22, 2019
This young leader’s statements such as — “How the BJP must ‘really’ become a Hindu party and not just perceived as one” or “How the BJP should unapologetically be a party for Hindus,” or that “Congress is a party of Muslims, every Hindu must be convinced of this truth,” and “USHV (United Spectrum of Hindu Votes) is the only solution to counter Muslim consolidation,” indicate how he sticks to the party’s Hindutva narrative.
His fiery oratory skills are what impressed the BJP high command.
“It was his organisational skills during Mangalore Chalo (a protest walk from Bengaluru to Mangalore against alleged killings of RSS workers) that impressed Shah and Modi,” said a senior BJP leader, who did not wish to be named.
Surya, however, says that while he dons this new role of a national leader, he would take a more mature approach.
“I wouldn’t want to say that I will tone down my language, but would handle issues with additional maturity. That would not mean that my conviction is going to dilute in any way. However, I have to transform from any 28-year-old to a more responsible person who will be taking up an office of constitutional importance,” he said.
Rift within BJP
Surya’s candidature has caused a rift within the state BJP as one faction led by former Karnataka chief minister and BJP state party president B.S. Yeddyurappa had suggested Tejaswini, the wife of late Ananth Kumar, be nominated from the seat. But, senior RSS leader and BJP national secretary B.L. Santosh impressed upon the party leadership that Surya was a better candidate as he would attract and appeal to the young voters as well.
Yeddyurappa had openly announced Tejaswini’s name as their only choice and based on his support, she had opened a campaign office and begun her campaigning in the constituency even before the final list came out.
Ananth Kumar’s supporters have been extremely dismayed by Surya’s nomination and have been refusing to help build a support base for him during his campaign.
“Kumar’s supporters feel betrayed and they are in no mood to campaign for the new candidate. The party has asked everybody to discard individual differences and work towards a BJP victory. But they are very hurt. It is going to be tough to convince them,” said another senior BJP functionary on condition of anonymity.
I have the support of all leaders: Surya
Surya, however, claims he has the support of all leaders, including Tejaswini whom he had referred to as a mother figure.
“Yeddyurappa sir was thrilled when I met him before collecting my B-form and said to me Vijaya bhavaa hogi, gedhkondu baa (Wish you success, win and come),” Surya said.
Surya is being challenged by 64-year-old Congress veteran B.K. Hariprasad, who was a surprise candidate as well. Hariprasad had emerged from the ranks of Congress’ student wing, the National Student Union of India (NSUI). He had unsuccessfully contested against Ananth Kumar from Bangalore South seat and lost by over 65,000 votes in the 1999 polls.
“I am well prepared to face any challenge. I will reach out to all friends and foes to ensure a win for the Congress”, said a confident Hariprasad while campaigning.