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HVK Archives: Banking on versatile skills

Banking on versatile skills - The Observer

E. Jayakrishnan ()
January 3, 1998

Title: Banking on versatile skills
Author: E. Jayakrishnan
Publication: The Observer
Date: January 3, 1998

For the Kumaramangalam clan, the circle has been squared. With
Rangarajan Kumaramangalam joining the BJP, the family has now
been part of all the three political formations in the country
today, the Left, the right and the Centrist parties.

The evolution began in sixties when Mohan Kumaramangalam, the
father of Rangarajan, 'a die-hard' communist and a member of the
undivided Communist Party of India (CPI), switched allegiance to
the centrist Congress.

His son a oyal Congressi' for the most part of his life has in
a breath-taking decision taken on the mantle of unfurling the BJP
flag in Tamil Nadu.

A decision for all his bravado - "I realised that only the BJP
can provide a stable and effective Government" - must not have
been an easy one for him. Not only because of the family's three-
decade long connection with the Congress, but also because Tamil
Nadu to this day remains virtually a barren territory for the
saffron party.

Of course, Salem, the constituency which his father bequeathed to
his son and which has already elected him thrice to the Lok Sabha
and is an area where the people hold the scion in the highest
esteem.

Added to this is the fact that the BJP's 'political coup' in
Tamil Nadu, tieing-up with Jayalalitha's AIADMK along with the
PMK and the MDMK, may mean that Kumaramangalam may be the likely
protagonist for the BJP breaching the Tamil Nadu fortress. Either
way, it is the greatest gamble of his political career.

However, this is not for the first time that he has left the
Congress. Only a few years back, he had cast his lot with the
breakaway faction of Arjun Singh. He had accused the then Prime
Minister Narasimha Rao of failing to prevent the demolition of
the Babri Masjid and had contested the 1996 general elections on
a Congress (Tiwari) ticket.

As a first timer in the Union Council of Ministers, in-charge of
Law and justice and Parliamentary affairs, some years back, he
had acquitted himself well. He had then given his famous recipe
to handle the bureaucracy. "Me bureaucracy recognises its
riders. If you know how to ride, it gives you respect. If you
don't, it takes you for a ride."

In striking contrast to his sophisticated and affable way of
dealing with people, he has something of a reputation for being a
indefatigable rabble-rouser as a MP, rushing off into the well of
the House at the drop of a baton. At other times using his
innate charm as the Parliamentary Affairs Minister to mend fences
between the ruling party and the opposition.

He will need his both diverse skills to do well in his new avatar
as the torch-bearer of the BJP in Tamil Nadu.


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