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BJP inducts two from Kerala in Modi cabinet, eyes assembly polls

Bharatiya Janata Party leader George Kurian is sworn in as a minister during the swearing-in ceremony of the new alliance government at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on June 9, 2024.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader George Kurian is sworn in as a minister during the swearing-in ceremony of the new alliance government at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on June 9, 2024. Photo credit: PTI

By bringing in actor-politicians Suresh Gopi With long-time BJP worker George Kurian inducted as Union minister in Narendra Modi 3.0 cabinet, the BJP appears to be strategizing to change the course of the 2026 Kerala Assembly elections Bipolar algorithm.

Despite initial uncertainty, Mr Gopi was sworn in as Union minister of state on Sunday, creating history by becoming the BJP’s first Lok Sabha MP from the state.

The 66-year-old actor-politician is a nominated member of the Indian Lok Sabha from 2016 to 2022. But all were unsuccessful.

Mr. Gopi, who belongs to the former Nair community, completed his schooling at Infant Jesus Anglo-Indian School, Tangassery and furthered his education at Fatima Mata National College, Quilon, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a master’s degree in English language and literature.

Mr. Gopi has acted in more than 250 films, mostly in Malayalam and various South Indian languages. In 1998, he won both the National Film Award for Best Actor and the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film. Kaliyadan. He is currently the Director of the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata. His wife Radhika Nair is the granddaughter of late actress Aranmula Ponnamma.

The surprising choice in Modi’s cabinet, however, is Mr Kurian, who is neither a member of the Lok Sabha nor the House of Commons. The 63-year-old’s entry into the cabinet could signal an attempt by the BJP to strengthen its influence in Kerala by reaching out to the Christian community. He belongs to the Syriac Catholic sect.

Mr. Kurian has been a staunch member of the party since its inception and is one of its state secretaries. He has previously served as the Vice Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, a member of the National Executive Committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party and as the National Vice President of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He also served as district president of Kottayam division.

Mr Kurian is contesting the 2016 assembly elections in Puthupalli, a Congress stronghold. The party had earlier nominated him from Kottayam and Idukki Lok Sabha constituencies.

Mr. Kurian, a lawyer with a degree in Hindi, served as a special service officer to former Union Minister of State for Railways and veteran BJP leader O. Rajagopal during AB Vajpayee’s tenure as Prime Minister. His wife is OT Annamma, who retired from the Cochin Naval Base as a Lieutenant Commander.

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