As the Left Democratic Front (LDF) surged to victory in Kerala, the Bharatiya Janata Party created history by winning its first assembly seat in the state. Veteran leader O Rajagopal, who contested from Nemom seat in Thiruvananthapuram, defeated sitting MLA V Sivankutty of CPI-M by 8671 votes.
Several leaders from the party expressed their hearty congratulations on Twitter:
Congrats to O Rajagopal ji on winning 1st ever seat for BJP in Kerala & securing BJP’s entry in Kerala Legislative Assembly. @BJP4Keralam— Shahnawaz Hussain (@ShahnawazBJP) May 19, 2016
From Myanmar, Congratulations to Shri O Rajagopal, a senior leader of @BJP4Keralam on his spectacular victory in Nemom.— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) May 19, 2016
Here is all you need to know about the 86-year-old man, popularly known as ‘Rajettan’, who helped BJP open its account in Kerala:
- Originally from Palakkad district in Kerala, Rajagopal was a practising lawyer before he entered active politics.
- Inspired by Deen Dayal Upadhyay, he entered politics in the 1960s and joined the Jana Sangh. During Emergency period, he was the General Secretary of the Jana Sangh and was subsequently jailed, reports Financial Express.
- A staunch RSS activist, Rajagopal has been one of the most prominent faces of the BJP unit in Kerala for decades, and has been close to veteran leader LK Advani. He is often termed as the ‘permanent BJP candidate’ of the state, reports Open Magazine.
- He has held union portfolios such Defence and Parliamentary Affairs, Urban Development, Law, Justice and Company Affairs, and Railways as a minister of state in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Centre.
- He has been a Rajya Sabha MP between 1992-2004.
- He also said to have close links with Mata Amritanandmayi, one of Kerala biggest spiritual leaders. Her followers had reportedly campaigned for him during the elections, reports Indian Express.
- He has lost eight times in different elections in the state of which four were Lok Sabha polls. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he got 2,82,336 votes (the highest ever by a BJP candidate in the state) but still lost to Congress leader Dr Shashi Tharoor by a narrow margin, reports Financial Express.
(With inputs from PTI)