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National - Elections 2004 Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Candidate Watch

'O. Rajagopal, BJP candidate, Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat'


Officially, he represents Madhya Pradesh and the BJP in the Rajya Sabha. Kerala has never elected him either to the Assembly or Parliament. Yet he has been called Kerala's ambassador to the Centre by none other than the Chief Minister, A. K. Antony.

The Union Minister of State for Defence Production and Supplies and Parliamentary affairs, O. Rajagopal, is contesting the election from the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency for the third time. He is one of the two Ministers in the Vajpayee Ministry, who is fighting against heavy odds in a State that has never elected a BJP candidate. The other being P. C. Thomas of the Indian Federal Democratic Party (IFDP) in Muvattupuzha constituency.

Many people in Thiruvananthapuram are sympathetic to Mr. Rajagopal. But whether they will vote for him remains to be seen. The bipolar political divide, dominated by the United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front, makes it almost impossible for the BJP to gain a foothold in the State.

Mr. Rajagopal, who began his political career in the Jan Sangh, was a national executive council member in the Jan Sangh in 1964-67. In 1977, he became the State general secretary of the Janata Party. He contested the Lok Sabha elections as a Janata Party candidate in 1980 from Kasaragod and lost. His attempts to get elected to the Lok Sabha from Manjeri in 1989 and from Thiruvananthapuram in 1991 and 1999 also failed.

Mr. Rajagopal was elected twice to the Rajya Sabha in 1992 and 1998 from outside Kerala. In October 1999, he became Minister of State for Law, Justice and Company affairs with additional charge of Parliamentary Affairs in the Vajpayee Government. Since then he has spent a substantial part of his time in Kerala. He is now urging the people to elect him so that he can continue to work for the State.

Mr. Rajagopal feels the public perception about his services to the State, especially Thiruvananthapuram, will work in his favour.

In addition there is a general perception among people that the Vajpayee Government will return to power. So sending representatives only to oppose the Government is not going to be beneficial. For development of the constituency, members who can be part of the Governmnt and influential with the Government should be there in Parliament, says Mr. Rajagopal.

The BJP claims that there is an unprecedented consolidation of forces in its favour in the State this time. There is support from organisations such as the Nair Service Society (NSS), Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam and the Brahmana Sabha and some minority groups. And Mr. Rajagopal appears to be the best bet for the BJP in the State.

- Roy Mathew

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