Suresh Gopi: BJP’s sole lawmaker from Kerala inducted as MoS | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Suresh Gopi: BJP’s sole lawmaker from Kerala inducted as MoS

Jun 10, 2024 02:53 PM IST

Suresh Gopi was sworn-in as a Union minister in the third term of the Narendra Modi-led government, an important milestone in his eight-year-long political career.

Kochi: In several of the Malayalam films he has starred in over four decades, Suresh Gopi has played the role of the angry, upright cop who would toss villains at will, berate ministers and corrupt politicians and deliver fiery, tongue-twisting dialogues filled with nationalistic fervour.

President Droupadi Murmu administers oath to BJP MP Suresh Gopi as minister, at the swearing-in ceremony of the new Union government at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi. (PTI)
President Droupadi Murmu administers oath to BJP MP Suresh Gopi as minister, at the swearing-in ceremony of the new Union government at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi. (PTI)

On Sunday, in real life, Gopi (65) was sworn-in as a Union minister in the third term of the Narendra Modi-led government, an important milestone in his eight-year-long political career. He has been rewarded for being the first leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to be elected as a Lok Sabha MP from Kerala. He fended off serious challenges raised by Communist Party of India (CPI) candidate and former state agriculture minister VS Sunil Kumar and senior Congress leader K Muraleedharan to win the Thrissur constituency in central Kerala by a handsome margin of 74,686 votes. It is the only seat the party won in Kerala.

While the BJP leaders from Kerala have been union ministers in the past, with the likes of O Rajagopal, Alfons Kannanthanam and V Muraleedharan, they had to be routed by the party through the Rajya Sabha into the Parliament.

Though he is a current member of the BJP, Gopi was not drawn to the ideology in his early years. In fact, as a student both in undergraduate and postgraduate years at the Fatima Mata National College in Kollam, Gopi was an active member of the Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and even held organisational positions in it at the college level.

In his later years, after his foray into films where he made debut as a child actor in 1965 and continued in supporting and lead roles through the 80s and 90s, Gopi has declared his admiration for veteran leaders like EK Nayanar of the CPI(M) and K Karunakaran of the Congress. Both were chief ministers of the state for multiple terms. An an actor, he even campaigned for his close friends in elections in both parties.

Gopi joined the BJP at the insistence of PM Narendra Modi in October 2016 months after he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Centre under the arts category. During his stint in the Upper House, he chose Thiruvananthapuram as the nodal district and implemented various development projects using the MPLADS funds. He has also been known, during his film and political careers, to advance philanthropic activities and signal support for social movements, both of which endeared him to masses in Kerala beyond political differences.

In his first electoral outing as a BJP candidate in Thrissur in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Gopi was unsuccessful; but, he made his presence known by lifting the party’s vote share from 11% to 28% in a tough contest. He was again unfortunate two years later in the assembly elections in Thrissur segment in which he made gains in vote share but remained in third position.

But he and the party did not give up and he was instructed by the central leadership to camp in Thrissur and deepen his connect with the voters and various social groups. During that period, Gopi grabbed headlines for walking 18 kilometres in a padayatra in support of victims of fraud at cooperative banks controlled by the CPI(M). His continued presence in the constituency, the strengthening of BJP’s organisational base, his outreach to Christian and Muslim groups and the visit of Modi thrice to Thrissur, including to attend the wedding of Gopi’s daughter, all worked in his favour as Gopi romped home in the 2024 polls, shocking both the Left and the Congress.

Though the 65-year-old talked about his reluctance to become a Union minister citing his passion for films and desire to complete the projects he committed to, he is learnt to have been persuaded by Modi and the central leadership as a minister in Union council of ministers since he is the only BJP MP from Kerala. The actor is a recipient of state and national film awards for best actor in 1998 for portraying the role of a theyyam artist in the film ‘Kaliyattam.’

Through Gopi’s induction into the Union cabinet, the BJP in Kerala would be hoping to reap the political dividends and boost momentum ahead of local body polls and Assembly elections in the next two years.

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