Kunnummel Surendran, who came into limelight after the Sabarimala temple protests led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and right wing outfits against the entry of young women into the shrine, on Saturday took over as the chief of BJP's Kerala unit.
He assumed charge as the state president at the saffron party's headquarters, Mararji Bhavan, in Thiruvananthapuram, in the presence of hundreds of workers and senior leaders including Union Minister V Muraleedharan and BJP National Secretary H Raja.
Last week, BJP president JP Nadda had appointed Surendran as the party's Kerala unit chief.
With this appointment, the party's state unit is getting a president after a gap of over three months. The party's topmost post was lying vacant in the southern state after Surendranâ€™s predecessor PS Sreedharan Pillai was appointed Mizoram Governor in October 2019.
Surendran, who arrived in the state capital in the morning, was given a rousing welcome by the party workers, before being taken to the headquarters in a road show.
Addressing the workers after assuming charge, the 50-year-old leader said that the BJP has the strength to make a political leap in the southern state and it would be the voice of people in the event of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) opposition being inactive.
Surendran's appointment comes at a time when Kerala is gearing up for the local body election this year and the assembly polls in 2021.
The face of BJP's fierce agitation against entry of young women in Sabarimala, Surendran had been a front-runner for the party leadership since the beginning.
A close confidant of V Muraleedharan, the young leader has a tough task ahead of him to gain seats and increase the party vote share in the impending polls.
Hailing from Ulleyeri in Kozhikode, Surendran had contested unsuccessfully from Pathanamthitta in the Lok Sabha polls held last year. Six months later, he was fielded from Konni in the assembly bypoll, which also he lost. He was defeated in the 2016 assembly polls by 89 votes from the Manjeswaram constituency.