Veerappan's daughter now BJP youth wing leader: Report

Veerappan's daughter named Tamil Nadu BJP youth wing leader: Report

Representative image. Credit: Reuters Photo

The name Veerappan which was synonymous to dacoity in the 2000s has a new identity today. The sandalwood smuggler’s daughter, Vidhya Veerappan, is the new vice-president of the BJP’s Tamil Nadu youth wing, according to a report by the Indian Express.

The 29-year-old law graduate runs a school of children in Krishnagiri and does social work. She joined the BJP party, which is grasping at last straws in the southern state, in February 2020. “I don’t relate to any particular community, I believe in humanity,” she adds.

Vidhya came to know about her appointment through a Facebook post by the state party leadership and almost immediately, the talk was all about her father.

Her infamous father made the national headlines in 2000 for kidnapping and releasing Kannada movie star Rajkumar. He was believed to be responsible for the deaths of over 150 people, police and forest officers included, poaching of over 100 elephants and smuggling sandalwood. Four years later, he was killed in a shootout by the Tamil Nadu Police Special Task Force (STF) headed by K Vijay Kumar. 

Vidhya met her father once in her life. “I had seen him only once, during a school vacation, when I was at my grandfather’s village Gopinatham, near Hanur in Karnataka. There was a forest nearby, I was hardly six or seven years old. He came to where we were playing, spent a few minutes talking to me, and left. I remember him asking me to ‘do good, study well to become a doctor and serve people’,” Vidhya said.

“But by the time I started knowing the world, he had lived his life…I believe it was the situation around him that made him choose a problematic path. But some of the stories I heard about him motivated me to do social service,” she added.

Vidhya was born in a Chennai hospital after her mother surrendered to the police. Her mother was lodged in a women’s hostel where she was dubbed ‘Vidhya Rani’ by an STF officer, Kumar in his book Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand wrote.

There is a popular narrative which sees Veerappan as the ‘Robin Hood’ figure for the Vanniyars, an influential OBC community that he belonged to. 

“He was never into politics but his approach and actions were based on his understanding of the world around him. There are many interpretations about his work for the Vanniyar community,” says Vidhya.

She joined the BJP after a local leader introduced her to the then Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan. She admits that the arena of politics is unknown to her. “I was interested in social service, and Radhakrishnan suggested that I do the same work for the party,” she said.

Her mother, Muthulakshmi is still affiliated to Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi (TVK), an offshoot of the PMK, a Vanniyar party and NDA ally.