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Kerala's action hero makes a dashing entry into govt

By T G Biju
June 09, 2024 21:40 IST
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He was trolled during the Lok Sabha poll campaign, but despite the tactics by his rivals, action hero Suresh Gopi rose to national stardom in cinema style on June 4, winning the Thrissur seat on a BJP ticket and scripting history for the saffron party in Kerala.

IMAGE: Suresh Gopi is administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Droupadi Murmu, New Delhi, June 9, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

In other words, the saffron party's decades-long struggle in Kerala -- a state historically dominated by the Left and the Congress -- and marked by numerous challenges since the Jan Sangh days, finally yielded fruit in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls through Gopi.


Post-victory also, Gopi's political career saw cinematic twists, with his initial reluctance to accept a ministerial berth in the government, citing his commitment to the people of Thrissur and agreements he had signed for a couple of movies, one of which is produced by the company of megastar Mammootty, whom he affectionately calls Mammookka.

He had returned to Kerala after attending the NDA MPs' meeting two days ago, but he got a call from Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi on Sunday, asking him to reach Delhi immediately.

"He (Modi) decided. I obeyed," Gopi said before rushing to the airport with his family.

Known for his 'mass' performances in action and drama films, Gopi's nearly decade-long efforts helped him turn the BJP's long-held dream into reality by winning the central Kerala constituency of Thrissur by a thumping margin of nearly 75,000 votes.

The common workers as well as the top brass of the BJP are elated by the national film award winner's poll victory from the Thrissur Lok Sabha seat.

The constituency holds a special place in Narendra Modi's heart, as it is home to the Guruvayur Lord Krishna temple, a famous Vaishnavite shrine he visited soon after assuming office as prime minister for the second consecutive term in 2019.

Thrissur witnessed a three-way contest for the Lok Sabha polls, with major candidates from the Congress, BJP, and CPI locked in a neck-and-neck battle.

Modi's two visits to the district this year prior to the announcement of the poll date -- one for attending a rally of the BJP Mahila Morcha and another to take part in the wedding of Gopi's daughter -- and a third one for campaigning for the NDA candidates in Thrissur and other nearby constituencies emphasised how much significance the saffron party attached to this key seat.

Thrissur, often referred to as the cultural capital of Kerala, is known for its vibrant mix of urban and rural populations.

The constituency boasts significant Hindu, Christian, and Muslim communities, contributing to its rich cultural and religious diversity.

Gopi's campaign in the seat was marked by controversies, with the CPI-M-led LDF and the Congress-led UDF targeting him for his cinema-style approach to reaching out to minorities, particularly the Christian community, who constitute a significant vote base in Thrissur.

Violence in Manipur and the alleged attacks against Christians in other parts of the country, especially in BJP-ruled states, were the main topics highlighted by both fronts to target the BJP and its candidate Gopi in the seat during the campaign.

Gopi's visit to the famous Lourde Matha Church in Thrissur city with his family and the presentation of a golden crown to the idol of St Mary during his daughter's wedding were used by his opponents to attack him, alleging that it was not made of the yellow metal but copper.

The actor and his family countered the propaganda against him by singing a melodious Christian devotional song in an album, winning the hearts of many.

Gopi was also trolled by his opponents for visiting a mosque and participating in breaking of the fast on a Ramadan eve during his election campaign.

Born in southern Kollam district, Gopi, a household name in Malayalam cinema, transitioned into politics with his nomination to the Rajya Sabha.

After an unsuccessful bid for the Thrissur seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and a defeat in the Thrissur assembly seat in the 2021 assembly polls, Gopi geared up for another run in 2024.

Despite the previous setbacks, Gopi, known for his philanthropic activities, made positive interventions in the lives of the people of the Thrissur constituency.

His celebrity status helped Gopi effectively connect with a cross-section of society, making his campaigns vibrant and engaging.

Known for his assertive and dynamic roles in movies such as Kaliyattam, for which he won the national award in 1998, the actor brings the same enthusiasm to his political actions.

Close to Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, Gopi was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2016, where he served until 2022.

His tenure as a Rajya Sabha member allowed him to advocate for development and cultural nationalism, aligning closely with the saffron party's core ideology.

The action hero's public speeches and interactions reflected his perceived straightforward personality, appealing to both his fans and the electorate.

There were instances of fans turning into political foes after he strongly advocated for the BJP government's programmes while criticising the works of the Congress and Left in the state.

He took on the UDF candidate, senior Congress leader K Muraleedharan, and Left leader and former Kerala minister, CPI's Sunil Kumar, in Thrissur this time, going on to win from the constituency. 

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T G Biju in Thrissur
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