LS polls: RSS pushes Mohanlal as BJP nominee

Speculation for over a year that 58-year-old national film award winner would join the BJP
Last Updated 04 September 2018, 12:35 IST

The RSS is pushing Malayalam superstar Mohanlal to contest the next Lok Sabha election from Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram on a BJP ticket, sources said on Tuesday.

However, the Sangh does not want him to be perceived as a "para-dropped" candidate and is working on building a "social activist profile" for him ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls.

There have been speculation for over a year that the 58-year-old national film award winner would be joining the BJP to contest the 2019 polls but he had not given his nod till now.

“There is a serious discussion in the Sangh about fielding Mohanlal," a senior leader said. Thiruvananthapuram is presently represented by Congress' Shashi Tharoor and the RSS feels that pitting Mohanlal against him would fetch rich dividends. In 2014, BJP had fielded cricketer S Sreesanth as its candidate.

The RSS has kept the saffron party's Kerala leadership out of the loop in its exercise to woo one of the most popular actors. BJP state leaders were not aware of the meeting, which was scheduled by the RSS.

The latest round of speculation came as Mohanlal met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to "invite" him for a function organised by his foundation in Wayanad. A day after the meet, Modi tweeted, “yesterday, I had a wonderful meeting with Mohanlal-ji. His humility is endearing. His wide range of social service initiatives are commendable and extremely inspiring.”

While there was no discussion about his entry into politics, sources said the meeting with Modi was part of an exercise to build a political and social profile of the actor.

On Monday, which gave another indication of the plan, Mohanlal tweeted a photo of his meeting with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan before the latter left for the United States for treatment.

The ViswaShanti Foundation, set up by Mohanlal in memory of his father Vishwanathan Nair and mother Shantakumari, is planning to unveil some projects, including a Cancer institute, in Wayanad and wanted Modi to inaugurate it.

The foundation, which has a senior Sangh functionary in the leadership, is also planning to host a Global Malayali Round Table in Delhi with Modi and other senior leaders in attendance. The foundation is also working along with Sangh-affiliated Seva Bharti in the flood relief and rehabilitation work.

In the next few months, sources said, Mohanlal will be exposed to more such events and the Sangh wants to establish his credentials ahead of the elections. "He is known as an actor but that itself does not help in Kerala. That is why this exercise," the leader said.

Sources said the initial plan was to field former Kerala BJP chief Kummanam Rajasekharan as the candidate in Thiruvananthapuram, which has substantial BJP votes, but his transfer to Mizoram as its Governor prompted the need for a back-up plan.

“Rajashekharan may not return to active politics. Even if he is chosen, there may not be enough time. So, the Sangh is actively pursuing Mohanlal,” the leader said.


(Published 04 September 2018, 02:48 IST)

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