Tejasvi Surya, the 28-year old lawyer and former member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) information technology cell, started his day on Thursday by posting pictures of him performing a religious ceremony and also posting a verse from a right-wing anthem on Twitter.
“This mission rings in my ears as I seek blessings of Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Ambedkar & Savarkar before heading to counting center," he wrote.
This trait of Surya of wearing his nationalism on his sleeve earned him a BJP ticket from the prestigious Bengaluru South constituency, which was represented by the late Ananth Kumar. His vitriolic and passionate speeches on nationalism and questioning the patriotism of all those who questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies earned him hordes of likeminded followers both offline and online.
Surya was leading from Bengaluru South with a margin of over two lakhs votes against B K Hariprasad of the Congress. Though the results are yet to be declared, Hariprasad would require nothing short of a miracle to make up the deficit from here on.
“This election is incomplete if I don't express my gratitude to each and everyone of you who made this possible," Surya wrote on Twitter.
He could not be reached for comment.
A qualified legal professional from Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies, Surya who hails from a Brahmin joint family, soon identified with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) before moving into the Yuva morcha or youth wing of the BJP. His candidature was in line with the BJP’s vision of infusing young blood into its ranks even though most of the senior leadership refuse to back down from their positions.
Surya claimed that his candidature was the signalling the end of dynasty politics and this is what differentiated the BJP from other parties. Surya is the nephew of three-time BJP legislator, L A Ravi Subramanya.
Though state leaders had suggested that Tejaswini Ananth Kumar, wife of the Ananth Kumar, be given the ticket to carry forward the mantle in this constituency, the top brass of the party had decided to field Surya. It took a while but state leaders eventually relented and reconciled with Surya’s candidature.
“Bengaluru South will be going to BJP again. The constituency which opened the BJP account in South India by @AnanthKumar_BJP in 1991 and he held this constituency 6 times with hard work & clean hands since 1996 for @BJP4India," Tejaswini Ananth Kumar wrote on Twitter.
Bengaluru South has been with the BJP since 1991 and Ananth Kumar had successfully defended this turf a record six times since 1996.
Surya’s candidature also gave many online right-wing sympathisers, who have been defending the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, the hope of a bright future in electoral politics if the BJP returns to power again.
Controversy soon followed Surya who was basking in all the attention from local, national and even international media organisations.
A Bengaluru-based entrepreneur alleged abuse at the hands of Surya and also that she was not the first such victim. Surya rushed to the courts and got a gag order barring around 40 media houses and social media platforms from publishing defamatory articles against the BJP leader. The high court later set aside this order.
Though most people who worked with Surya speak highly about his networking skills, they are also weary of his Brahminical ways.
“He is very good at marketing himself. But he is a Brahminical bigot," said one BJP worker who worked closely with Surya. He requested anonymity. Many workers say that the party did not need Surya to win the seat as it has always been a BJP bastion, mostly due to the high numbers of Brahmins in the seat.
“Even if the BJP gave the ticket to an electric pole, it will win without doubt," said another worker.
Congress made things easier for Surta as it fielded B K Hariprasad, thus throwing away the one chance it had to wrest this seat from the clutches of the BJP.