Born in 1977, L Murugan belongs to one of the most backward communities in Tamil Nadu called the Arunthathiyars.
“His parents are not educated and he fought a hard battle to finish his law studies and become a practising lawyer,” recounts his mentor and well-wisher Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry Tamilisai Soundararajan while speaking to India Ahead Digital.
For a 44-year-old, who fought social ostracisation, to become a lawyer, join the BJP and head the state SC wing for two terms before being made the state president of the party, L Murugan has already traversed a great deal of political distance.
The journey continues to head north.
Finding his name in the list of junior Union ministers on Wednesday, his supporters say there could not have been a better pick for the BJP to convey “its interest in the welfare of the backward communities in Tamil Nadu”.
Soundararajan says she spotted L Murugan in the initial days of his politics as a young man. “I encouraged him a lot. I saw how hard he worked and stood by him all through. The party leadership began noticing him for his hard work,” she says.
“There was a false propaganda against Tamil Nadu BJP that people from backward castes were neglected. But the party leadership chose me as the state president. I am from a backward community and during my term, I ensured that no one was neglected,” she adds.
“Similarly, after my term, they chose L Murugan from an even more backward community. This was a clear indication that the BJP wanted to be as inclusive as it could and crush the false propaganda that was being spread,” insists Soundararajan.
When asked if he has been chosen for the Union Cabinet for any particular aspect, Soundararajan is quick to add, “This is clearly a reward for all the work he has done, not just one aspect. The grassroot level work he has done for the party, the Vel Yatra that he undertook, and the tough contest he put up in the recent elections in Dharapuram constituency where he lost to the DMK candidate after a close fight.”
L Murugan is worth about Rs 2.6 crore as per the affidavit filed in the recent elections. He has several cases against him mainly relating to violating Covid protocols during his Vel Yatra and other rallies headed by him.
Although he has not been seen as a champion of the Arunthathiyar community, observers believe that his steady rise in the party is an indication of the BJP’s political agenda in Tamil Nadu. And this elevation to a ministerial berth, is also being seen as the party’s agenda.
“Why do you think that the DMK could not win many seats in the Kongu region?” asks C Lakshmanan of the Madras Institute of Development studies.
“A major part of the region, which is populated by the Goundars and Arunthathiyar, is brought into the Hindutva agenda of the BJP and they were happy with the AIADMK being aligned with the right wing party,” says Lakshmanan.
“While it is good that a member of the Arunthathiyar community is being elevated to a position in the union ministry, we cannot ignore the agenda that is being set by the BJP. A former deputy general secretary of the DMK, VP Duraisamy, belonging to the Arunthathiyar community, was wooed by the BJP and as soon as he joined the BJP, he was elevated to the position of BJP state unit’s Vice President,” adds Lakshmanan.
New challenges await this young outgoing BJP state unit president L Murugan when he takes guard as a minister of state. His well-wishers will see this elevation as a reward for all his struggles so far as a politician, while critics would only see his elevation as another move on the chess board of a chequered regional politics.