BJP leader Tejasvi Surya won the Lok Sabha elections against Congress leader BK Hariprasad in Bangalore South on Thursday, making him the party’s youngest MP in the Lok Sabha. With this win, the saffron party’s 28-year-old poster boy has helped the BJP retain the constituency that it has won since 1991.
Surya said that his win was a vote in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Each vote to the BJP is the common Indian’s appreciation of PM Narendra Modi’s lifetime of tapasya [sacrifice] and service to our motherland,” Surya said in a tweet. He attributed his victory to the support of Karnataka BJP chief BS Yeddyurappa, former Union minister Ananth Kumar and other party leaders and workers.
Surya beat Congress veteran BK Hariprasad by a margin of 3,31,192 votes.
“My first task as MP elect was to pay pranams to my childhood hero Baba Saheb Ambedkar,” Surya tweeted. “Born into nothing, he grew to become the most influential scholar – leader of the country. An inspiration for everyone. Let’s infuse fresh energy into his sublime Constitution.”
Surya, the nephew of BJP lawmaker Ravi Subramanya, is known for his polarising speeches and is closely associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of the BJP. Surya has said that he is unapologetic about this association as it played a great role in shaping him. He is also the state general secretary for the Karnataka BJP’s youth wing and also a party spokesperson.
Since 1996, the seat had been held by senior BJP leader and Union minister Ananth Kumar. After Kumar died in November, there was speculation that his wife Tejaswini Ananth Kumar would be the BJP’s candidate from the constituency. After Surya’s candidature was announced, many of Tejaswini Ananth Kumar’s supporters staged a protest in Bengaluru. But in April, Tejaswini Kumar was appointed vice president of the BJP’s Karnataka unit, a move that was seen as an attempt to placate her.
Soon after his candidature was announced, Surya’s detractors dug out a flurry of old posts he had made on Twitter that showcased his polarising views. “Call me a bigot, communal fanatic or whatever,” he had written on Twitter in June 2018. “But singular reason for BJP’s defeat in Jayanagar is the complete consolidation of Muslim vote... BJP must ‘really’ become a Hindu party & not just be perceived as one.”
He had added: “BJP should unapologetically be a party for Hindus. Must take concrete legislative measures to alleviate Hindu issues, not just make speeches…Congress is the party of Muslims: every Hindu must be convinced of this truth.”
Several of his tweets referred to the “Hindu rashtra” and nationalism.
Describing the parliamentary elections “a test of the common Indian’s patriotism”, Surya had claimed at a speech in Bengaluru: “If you are with Modi, you are with India. If you are not with Modi, you are anti-India.”
In the last week of March, Surya filed a suit in a civil court in Bengaluruafter media reports about allegations of sexual abuse against him. The court passed an injunction barring 49 media houses as well as social media platforms from publishing defamatory content against him. But about two weeks later, the Karnataka High Court set aside the gag order.