Lok Sabha Election

Tejasvi Surya, a young voice that sings an old RSS tune

Tejasvi Surya, BJP candidate for Bengaluru South Lok Sabha constituency, arriving to file his nomination papers in Bengaluru on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Tejasvi Surya L.S., the 28-year-old lawyer-turned-politician from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) stables who is set to contest from Bengaluru South, had his initial grooming in 2009 when, as a teenager, he accompanied Ananth Kumar on his ‘Jan Chetna Yatra’ across the country.

“I had pestered Tejaswini ma’m to send me on the Jan Chetna Yatra along with Ananth Kumar ji. She convinced sir to take me along. I saw my first Bharat Darshan,” he tweeted on Tuesday. The young man has been chosen to fill the shoes of the late Ananth Kumar, leaving his wife Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, who was an aspirant for the BJP ticket, “shocked”.

The party’s choice is reminiscent of the decision it made in 1996 when it fielded a “dark horse” ABVP leader — Ananth Kumar himself — from the constituency. He went on to have an undisturbed run for six terms for 22 years, till his death.

But party insiders said that given the hard-line Hindutva plank on which stands Mr. Surya, a more relevant comparison would be Anantkumar Hegde, who debuted in 1996 at the age of 28 and has gone on to win six terms.

‘Test of patriotism’

Groomed in the RSS and known for his oratorial skills, Mr. Surya has been vocal on key issues such as Article 370 and triple talaq. In June 2018, he had advocated that the BJP unapologetically be a party for Hindus. He also termed the Congress a party of Muslims. In a recent speech, a pinned tweet on his Twitter account, he said, “This election is a test of common Indian’s patriotism. If you are with Modi, you are with India, and if you are not with Modi, you are anti-India. That’s it.”

RSS strongman B.L. Santosh, national general secretary (organisation), BJP, was the only prominent leader to back his candidature, while the rest in the Karnataka BJP unit backed Ms. Tejaswini, sources said. R. Ashok and V. Somanna, seen as key BJP leaders in the constituency, were conspicuous by their absence when Mr. Surya filed his nomination papers on Tuesday.

In an attempt to reach out, Mr. Surya visited Ms. Tejaswini at her residence and sought her blessings on Tuesday morning. While her supporters shouted slogans such as “Tejasvi, go back”, she said that following in the footsteps of her late husband, she would work for the party no matter what decision it took. Party insiders said the support Mr. Surya garners within the BJP will be his litmus test.

Mr. Surya, an alumnus of Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies and an advocate in the High Court of Karnataka, is the nephew of BJP leader and MLA for Basavanagudi Ravi Subramanya.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 2:09:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/a-young-voice-that-sings-an-old-rss-tune/article26647260.ece

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