Slow and steady V Muraleedharan wins the race from Kerala


People close to him would vouch for the fact that patience is one of the key virtues of V Muraleedharan, who was sworn in as a minister of state in the second NDA government on Thursday. He is someone who strongly believes ‘all good things come to those who wait’.

Even when he was a champion athlete during his college days, Murali kept himself away from sprint events that are largely based upon one’s ability to accelerate to maximum speed in the quickest time possible. Unsurprisingly, his favourite disciplines were 10,000m race and 24km race-walking that require tremendous endurance, patience and resolve. Murali, who used to get up at 4 am every day to attend training sessions, was the champion in both these events at Calicut University intercollegiate meets.

On Thursday too he had to wait quite a bit at the swearing-in ceremony as he was the 52nd minister to take oath out of a total of 58 members in the Modi team.

Just like he loved sports, Murali was passionate about serving his organisation as a student activist. In that period, he was a totally different person as far as appearance is concerned.  He used to wear only white khadi shirt and dhoti and sport a long beard with a knot at the tip. Moreover, he preferred to walk barefoot and lead a simple life.

By the time Murali reached college, he had made up his mind to be a full-time RSS pracharak. He had served as a pracharak for 13 years before he got married and started serving as an active member of the ABVP and later the BJP. His wife Dr K S Jayashree is a Sanskrit lecturer at the SN College, Chelannoor.

Delhi links come handy

The turning point in his political career came when he shifted base to New Delhi after becoming the national general secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP.

Those who were his colleagues in the student organisation at that time now hold top posts in the BJP and the RSS. When he was the ABVP general secretary, Dattatreya Hosabale, the current Sah Sarkaryavah or joint general secretary of the RSS, was also a key office-bearer.

Obviously, it was those connections that helped him grow in stature and climb up the party ranks in Kerala. Apart from Hosabale, BJP national general secretary P Muralidhar Rao, national joint organisational general secretary B L Santosh, also took a firm stance to ensure their old colleague a ministerial berth.

Both of them were learned to have persuaded the BJP central leadership to consider only him from the list of nominees from Kerala. In fact, the list which was forwarded to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah to make a choice had also comprised the names of Kummanam Rajasekharan, Alphons Kannanthanam, and Suresh Gopi.

Kummanam, who resigned as Mizoram Governor to contest the Lok Sabha elections, had a clear edge over the others in the initial stages of deliberations. He also had the backing of the the RSS leadership in Kerala. It was then Hosabale and Muralidhar Rao stood up for Murali and insisted on including him in the ministry.

Group equations

According to those who owe allegiance to Murali in BJP state unit, a fair share of credit for the party’s remarkable show in the 2016 assembly elections goes to Murali.

They firmly believe that his exceptional political acumen and efforts in strengthening the organisation while he was the party state president during the five-year period between 2010-15 were key to the party’s performance in the state elections.

On several occasions in the past Murali had found himself in the middle of ugly factional feuds in the state unit, but he always enjoyed the solid support of the central leadership of the BJP and the RSS and continued to be the most preferred choice to head the state unit. He sent out a strong message by becoming a Rajya Sabha member last year, when the faction led by him appeared to be breaking apart.

When Murali was appointed as the party’s in-charge of the organisational activities in Andhra Pradesh for the Lok Sabha elections, his adversaries spread rumours that the move was to keep him away from Kerala.

However, Murali continued to be Modi’s confidante and was entrusted with the task of translating his speeches whenever he visited Kerala in recent times.

Murali has won Modi’s trust as a skilful translator, and now here is an opportunity for him to earn his trust as an able administrator.