Former union minister O Rajagopal on May 19 made history by getting elected as the first BJP MLA in Kerala’s 140-member assembly, giving the BJP its first ever representation in the house.
The 86-year-old political veteran had won from Nemom constituency in Thiruvananthapuram district by over 8,000 votes. He defeated outgoing CPI-M legislator V Sivankutty.
The BJP had so far never won an assembly or Lok Sabha seat in Kerala due to bipolar politics in the state.
Rajagopal had contested the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat in 1999, 2004 and 2014. He finished in the second place behind Shashi Tharoor of the Congress in 2014. He first contested a Lok Sabha seat in 1980 as a Janata Party candidate from Kasaragod.
He had also contested the 2011 assembly polls from Nemon and finished second. In a 2012 by-election in Neyyatinkara, he secured more than 30,000 votes but could not win.
Despite many defeats, Rajagopal was credited with the BJP’s growth in the state and is at the moment face of the party in Kerala.
Rajagopal has held union portfolios such Defence and Parliamentary Affairs, Urban Development, Law, Justice and Company Affairs, and Railways as a minister of state in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Centre.
Born on September 15, 1929 to Madhavan Nair and O Kunhikkavu Amma at Pudukkod Panchayath in Palakkad district, he completed Law graduation in Chennai and began practicing law in 1956 at the Palakkad District Court.