Veerappan’s daughter in politics to help the society

Veerappan’s daughter in politics to 'give back love' to society

Credit: DH

For Vidhya Rani, her father, notorious sandalwood smuggler Veerappan whose name spelled terror in parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, is a “hero who gave direction to my life” in just half-hour they met for the first and last time.

Till date, Vidhya Rani, who pursued a 5-year-course in law in Bengaluru, was identified only as Veerappan’s daughter. But today, the daughter stands on her own and is proud that she has been appointed as the vice-president of Tamil Nadu BJP’s youth wing.

Vidhya Rani Veerappan, as she calls herself, was studying third standard when she met her father at her grandfather’s house in Gopinatham on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border.

“That was the first and last time I met him. We spoke for 30 minutes and the conversation is still fresh in my mind. He held me and asked me to pursue medicine and serve the people. That conversation directed me to where I am today,” she told DH. She studied law to pursue her dream of joining the civil services to serve the people but could not clear the exams.

Though Veerappan was feared by almost everyone, Vidhya Rani said, the society never looked her from the “prism of my father” and gave immense love and affection to me.

“I think politics is a tool for me to give back what society gave to me. I was always loved by people. No one had any prejudice against me and that helped me reach where I am today,” she added. Talking about her stay in Bengaluru for half a decade, Vidhya Rani the city gave her life-long friends, and none discriminated against her despite knowing who she was.

“My friends knew who I was. They were very good to me and helped me become stronger in life. Whatever one might stay about my father, he was a good man. Improving livelihood of people who lived near the forests was his motive,” Vidhya Rani said.

Asked why she chose BJP to take a plunge in politics, Vidhya Rani said she was inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for the nation and hence chose the saffron party, though it hardly has any base in Tamil Nadu.

“To be honest, I never had intention of joining politics until I interacted with former Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan two years back. It was Mr Radhakrishnan who motivated me to serve the motherland. And in February this year, I formally joined the BJP,” she said.

Vidhya Rani’s mother Muthulakshmi is part of a political outfit run by former MLA T Velmurugan.

Though she pursued law, Vidhya Rani says running a kids’ school in Krishnagiri gives immense satisfaction to her. “Getting to help children mould from their very young age is kind of a blessing. I consider this as my primary social responsibility and hence enjoy running the school,” she said.

Veerappan, who was killed by the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (STF) on October 18, 2004, in an encounter, earned notoriety for poaching elephants, smuggling sandalwood, kidnapping high-profile people like Kannada Thespian Raj Kumar and former minister Nagappa, and killing policemen and others who came his way.  

The bandit ran an empire inside the forests along the Sathyamangalam forests spread across Erode and Mysore districts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, respectively.