For the last three months, speculation over a change at the Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad has been imminent. The BJP unit in Telangana was clear that the next Governor should not be pro-K Chandrasekhar Rao, as ESL Narasimhan was perceived to be. With the BJP fancying its chances in Telangana in the run-up to 2023, the state unit was keen that the Governor should be someone who would not shy away from asking uncomfortable questions of the TRS government.
After the false alarm about the late Sushma Swaraj being sent to Hyderabad, the name of Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi started doing the rounds as a possible replacement for Narasimhan. Even though it was just a rumour, a worried BJP state unit actually held an informal meeting in Hyderabad to discuss Bedi’s candidature. The leaders were apprehensive about the former IPS officer and felt she may not listen to anyone, leave alone the ruling TRS. The message was accordingly conveyed to Delhi.
Another name which did the rounds then was that of former Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who if Telangana BJP leaders are to be believed, was not averse to the gubernatorial assignment.
What does one make of Soundararajan’s appointment especially given that political circles in Telangana have been taken by surprise. Her name was not on the radar and despite being a well-known leader in Tamil Nadu, she is an unknown political entity to most in Telangana.
The choice of Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan who lost to Kanimozhi from the Tuticorin Lok Sabha constituency, is guided more by the internal dynamics of the BJP in Tamil Nadu than anything else. A medical practitioner, Soundararajan has been the face of the party in Tamil Nadu over the past few years but the BJP leadership clearly sees the need to shift gears and inject a fresh dose of enthusiasm into the party that lacks in vote catchers.
It is also the BJP’s way of correcting a perception. Within Tamil Nadu, it has always been felt that someone like Nirmala Sitharaman was given plum posts in the Cabinet while Dr Soundararajan despite being eminently qualified, was limited to Tamil Nadu affairs of the party. The Telangana Raj Bhavan is an acknowledgement of her services to the party even though at 58, she is fairly young for a gubernatorial role.
At the same time, Tamilisai having cut her teeth in active politics in a state where the BJP is an also-ran, is seen as an apt choice as Governor in an opposition party-ruled state. It would help the BJP cause that she has sharp political acumen and understands the dynamics of the political theatre. Certains sections are already wondering if she will do a Kumudbehn Joshi who as Governor had issues with then chief minister NT Rama Rao.
There is another reason why Soundararajan is just the right choice for the post of Telangana Governor. Her date of birth is 2 June, the day Telangana was formed.