It is official now. Tamilisai Soundararajan, a fiery speaker and daughter of former Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president Kumari Ananthan, has been made the new president of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tamil Nadu unit, in what seems to be an ironic twist in the State’s politics.
The BJP, though, will promote it as a sign of internal democracy in the saffron party.
A workaholic and a vocal campaigner during the recent Lok Sabha polls, Ms. Tamilisai will also be the first-ever woman to steer the BJP leadership in the State. She takes over the reigns at a crucial juncture when the party is aiming for a larger presence in the State ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections.
“Our party president Amit Shah has already announced that the focus would be on developing the BJP outside the Hindi heartland. This automatically makes Tamil Nadu crucial,” she told The Hindu over the phone. Her nomination brings to end the prolonged suspense on who would take over the responsibility from Pon. Radhakrishnan, who had to give up his party post after he became a Union Minister in May.
Ms. Tamilisai, who belongs to the Nadar community as Mr. Radhakrishnan, had to contend with a stiff challenge thrown in by veteran State leader H. Raja. Incidentally, Mr. Raja was appointed as a national secretary on Saturday, a post that Ms. Tamilisai had held. Mr. Raja had lost the Lok Sabha election contesting in Sivaganga, while Ms. Tamilisai was denied a party ticket.
Asked about the internal party equations, she said all leaders were aware that team work was now necessary to make the BJP a strong force in Tamil Nadu.
The 53-year-old Ms. Tamilisai, a doctor by profession, rose through the ranks after starting off as a local medical wing secretary of the party. Significantly, she will also be the first BJP Tamil Nadu chief without a significant RSS background. Despite the BJP’s fluctuating political fortunes, Ms. Tamilisai stood her ground as a staunch party worker.