Ex-union minister, former MLAs, state secys in fray for BJP prez role after Tamilisai named Guv
Several senior BJP leaders in Tamil Nadu are eyeing the post of the party’s state unit president after Tamilisai Sounderarajan was named as the governor-designate of Telangana on Sunday.
Sounderarajan was named the chief of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tamil Nadu unit in 2014 and her tenure was to end in December 2019.
Unlike in the past when the BJP was a peripheral player in the Dravidian state, with its current tie-up with the ruling AIADMK, the state unit presidentship has become an attractive one.
Sources in the BJP indicated former Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan, former Coimbatore lawmaker CP Radhakrishnan, former state minister Nainar Nagendran who switched from the AIADMK, the BJP’s state general secretaries Vanathi Srinivasan and Karuppu M Muruganantham, R Srinivasan, and national general secretary H Raja are said to be in the race to become the president of the state unit.
The BJP has a significant presence in Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Thoothukkudi where Hindu Nadars – who have backed it - are numerically strong. The party is also active in the state’s western belt where Kongu Vellalar Gounders play a decisive role in electoral outcomes and have favoured the BJP in the past.
“Pon Radhakrishnan, a Nadar, has a rich experience being a former Union minister and he is a strong contender. Besides, CP Radhakrishnan and Vanathi Srinivasan from the Kongu belt are also hopeful of becoming the state president for BJP,” the source said.
“Certainly, Vanathi, who rose in the party along with Tamilisai, may get the nod if they decide to opt for another woman chief. Vanathi also has a good rapport with Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman,” the source added.
Nainar Nagendran and Karuppu M Muruganandam, a loyalist of Pon Radhakrishnan, are other leaders from the dominant Mukkulathor Thevar caste who are also in the contention, said another top office-bearer.
Likewise, veteran BJP leader H Raja and R Srinivasan, who maintains a low profile in the party, are also under consideration for the post, added the above leader.
If the high command decides to opt for a young face as its next president in the state, AP Muruganandan from Coimbatore district might also get the nod.
However, a senior BJP leader said the party is currently focussed on its membership-drive.
“Tamilisai’s term anyway was ending in December 2019. So, the high-command is considering capable candidates for the BJP’s state chief post. Within a few weeks, the name of the leader will be known after intra-party elections,” the party leader, who did not want to be named, said.
When contacted, BJP’s state secretary Karu Nagarajan also said it was too early to speculate as Tamilisai had been elevated to the Governor’s post only on Sunday.
“We are still celebrating the appointment of Tamilisai as the Governor of Telangana. Meantime, the party’s growth is also crucial for us. We have been strengthening our party in the state,” said Nagarajan.
“The BJP’s working president JP Nadda has also said that the elections for picking new state presidents across the country would be conducted within December. So, we will take all measures to ensure the BJP is ready for the 2021 assembly elections,” he added.