A gynaecologist, Telangana’s new governor hails from a traditional Congress family
Despite her Congress pedigree, Tamilisai chose to associate herself with BJP in the late nineties, when the party didn’t have the kind of presence it does currently.Updated: Sep 01, 2019 23:46 IST
Hours after President Ram Nath Kovind named 58-year-old Dr Tamilisai Sounderarajan as Governor designate for Telangana, the outgoing saffron party leader landed at ‘Kamalalayam’ – the state BJP office in Chennai to bid farewell to her party workers.
“I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for giving me this opportunity to serve as a Governor of Telangana. During my tenure as the BJP president we have increased the BJP’s membership to 42 lakhs,” an emotional Tamilisai said.
Given her political background of being associated with a staunch and well known Congress family from Kanyakumari, there may not have been much chance of Tamilisai joining BJP or her meteoric rise in the saffron party.
Tamilisai’s father Kumari Ananthan was an influential TNCC chief who is also known for his Tamil verse. Tamilisai’s uncle is H Vasanthakumar, the current Congress Member of Parliament from Kanyakumari LS seat and who also runs a chain of retail showrooms in South India called Vasanth & Co.
Tamilisai herself is a gynaecologist and her husband Dr Sounderarajan is a well known nephrologist in Chennai.
Inspite of her Congress pedigree, Tamilisai chose to associate herself with BJP in the late nineties, when the party didn’t have the kind of presence it does currently.
During several interviews in the past, she has explained her choice of BJP, “Though I belong to a Congress family, I have seen the service of RSS and BJP men while I served as a doctor. Many RSS and BJP workers used to visit the hospitals where I worked to donate blood. Their selfless service attracted me towards the BJP.”
Tamilisai began as a primary member of the BJP before becoming the South Chennai BJP Medical Wing Secretary in 1999. Subsequently, she was elevated as the state general secretary for BJP’s medical wing in 2001. However it was in 2005 when she was appointed as the state secretary for BJP that she came into the limelight. Subsequently, she was elevated to the post of state vice-president in 2007 and later made national secretary in 2013.
During her stint as the state vice-president and national secretary of BJP between 2007 and 2014, her popularity went up both within and outside the party. With her sharp takes on the political developments in the state and nationally, Tamilisai was a popular media panelist representing BJP, though her straight talk attracted both praise and criticism.
Like her father Kumari Ananthan who was inclined to literature, Tamilisai was associated with various literary groups including BJP leader La Ganesan’s ‘Potramarai’. The rhetorical flourishes in her speeches had made Tamilisai, a star campaigner for the BJP during the recent polls.
She was appointed as the first woman state chief for TN BJP in August 2014. Of the 30 plus BJP state unit chiefs, Tamilisai was the only woman BJP state unit president in the country. Her tenure was set to get over in December 2019.
Tamilisai had also contested the 2006 and 2011 assembly polls as well as the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections, all of them unsuccessfully. In the 2019 polls, Tamilisai took on DMK’s heavyweight Kanimozhi in the Thoothukkudi LS seat but lost by a margin of 3.47 lakh votes.
She retains goodwill across political lines witnessed by the fact that from DMK President MK Stalin, Periyar EVR’s Dravidar Kazhagam chief K Veeramani, AMMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, and even Kanimozhi wished Tamilisai on her new assignment.