Chennai: A day after L Murugan was inducted as a Union Minister of State in the Narendra Modi Cabinet, the BJP on Thursday appointed a former IPS officer K Annamalai to succeed him as president of its Tamil Nadu unit.
A native of Karur district in western Tamil Nadu, Annamalai had joined the Indian Police Service and served in the Karnataka cadre before taking voluntary retirement a couple of years ago. Nicknamed ‘Karnataka Singham’ by his supporters for his strong approach as a police officer, the 36-year-old 2011 batch IPS officer had joined the BJP last year and was appointed its State unit vice president. Annamalai’s bid to enter the Assembly failed as he lost to the DMK candidate from Aravakurichi this summer.
Party leaders pointed out that this was the first time a newcomer was being appointed as chief of the Tamil Nadu BJP unit. “At one point, only experienced leaders were given the top job. Leaders had to toil for years in the RSS or the BJP before they could steer the party. That has changed with Annamalai’s appointment. Many seniors have been overlooked,” rued a second-line leader and aspirant for the top post.
However, some in the party said that handpicking Annamalai has been done with a long-term plan. “The BJP national leadership is not looking at immediate gains. It is setting its eyes beyond the 2024 Parliamentary elections and looking at making the BJP the second player in Tamil Nadu where the politics has been dominated by the DMK and AIADMK since the 1960s leaving insignificant space to national parties,” said a leader.
“Annamalai has put the party in an embarrassing position with his goof-ups on historical accounts. But he is capable of attracting the youth giving his khaki stint. All that the high command wants is that the BJP should be in the news constantly. Annamalai can deliver with his sharp remarks on issues,” the leader added.