"It's Tejaswi and not Tejaswini!"exclaimed the Twitteratti as the BJP central leadership sprang a surprise, announcing Yuva Morcha general secretary Tejaswi Surya as the party's candidate in its bastion of Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency. It was widely expected the BJP would field late Union minister Ananth Kumar's wife Tejaswini given her active participation in scripting her husband's victories from the seat six times, but 28-year old Surya emerged the dark horse.
Ending the suspense with just hours left for the deadline for filing nominations for the first phase of polls, the BJP central leadership announced in the early hours on Tuesday the name of Surya, a lawyer and the party's national social media campaign team.
The delay in finalising the name had even fuelled speculations that prime minister Narendra Modi might opt for Bangalore South as the second constituency, apart from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
Senior leader Ananth Kumar, who died last year after battling cancer, represented Bangalore South for six terms and had defeated IT czar Nandan Nilekani in the 2014 polls.
His wife Tejaswini, an aerospace engineer, runs an NGO Adamya Chetana in memory of her mother-in-law Girija Shastry, a staunch RSS loyalist, who was active in politics as the member of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the earlier avatar of the BJP.
Active in public life through the NGO, Tejaswini had worked as a scientist at Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) between 1993-1997 and also on the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA - Tejas) project.
During her student days, she was very active in Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and has also served as its state Joint Secretary and the National executive member.
The Karnataka BJP core committee had proposed only Tejaswini's name, according to Padmanabhanagar MLA and former deputy chief minister R Ashok.
Tejaswini was also confident about fighting the poll on BJP ticket and had been preparing for it and had started the door-to-door campaign when the suprise decision came.
The party plumped for Surya from the RSS stable. Besides being a part of the BJP social media campaign team, he heads the party's state IT cell.
He will take on Congress Rajya Sabha member BK Hariprasad.
OMG OMG!!! I can't believe this. PM of world's largest democracy & President of largest political party have reposed faith in a 28 yr old guy to represent them in a constituency as prestigious as B'lore South. This can happen only in my BJP," Surya tweeted, reacting to the announcement.
The reason behind projecting Surya, said BJP sources, was to build a second line of young and talented leaders who can lead the party and the nation.
Endowed with oratorial skills, Surya was involved in strengthening the party base in the city as well as in coastal Karnataka, especially around Mangaluru and Udupi, the BJP strongholds. Following the denial of ticket to Tejaswini, her loyalists made a bee-line to her house.
A group of her supporters shouted slogans, saying she should have been given the ticket. Tejaswaini, however, insisted that she remained loyal to party and she accepted their decision to ensure 'NaMo Again'.
"I urge all the BJP karyakartas, friends and well wishers who are anxious and upset & still visting our house in large numbers, time to show we are a party with a difference. We are all committed to tread the path of ideology. And work for #NamoAgain2019," she said in a tweet.
Later talking to reporters here, she said there can be some sense of dissatisfaction because things did not happen according to one's beliefs.
"It is but natural. But above all is the decision of the party... I have been telling my party workers, whatever the party has decided will remain binding on me. Nation first, party next and my interests come last," she added.
Highly politically conscious Bangalore South has remained anti-Congress since 1977, barring once when former late chief minister R Gundu Rao got elected in the 1989 polls.
Bangalore South has eight assembly segments, with BJP holding five and Congress three after the 2018 assembly polls. True to its cosmopolitan nature, the constituency has considerable share of Brahmin, Vokkaliga and Muslim voters and a mix of upper- and middle-class voters.
The constituency was under the hold of the erstwhile Janata Party after the 1977, 1980 and 1984 general elections and from 1991-2014 in successive parliament elections, BJP has maintained its grip, mostly with Ananth Kumar, who first got elected to Lok Sabha in 1996, as MP.