Annamalai gets selected for three-month fellowship in UK

Annamalai had applied for the Chevening Gurukul Fellowship programme as the founder of ‘We The Leaders’ foundation, an NGO he started after he quit civil service.
K Annamalai
K Annamalai
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BJP’s Tamil Nadu state president, K Annamalai, is all set to go on a three-month sabbatical from his political career, as he has been selected for the United Kingdom Foreign Office’s Chevening Gurukul Fellowship for Leadership and Excellence programme. The fellowship programme begins in mid-September and will conclude in November. According to sources, Annamalai had applied for the programme before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and had attended the interview in Delhi in May.

Sources close to Annamalai told TNM that he has requested the BJP high command to relieve him from the duties as a state president until he completes the course in the UK. Annamalai had applied for the Chevening Gurukul Fellowship programme as the founder of ‘We The Leaders’ foundation, an NGO he started after he quit civil service. 

The programme is hosted by the University of Oxford within the Department of Politics and International Relations, according to the Chevening website. The UK foreign office has been running the fellowship programme for more than 20 years for “young high-flyers and mid-career professionals and professionals from diverse backgrounds with strong and demonstrable leadership potential,” the website says. The British High Commission will make an announcement on July 26. Around ten other professionals are part of the programme this time.

The Chevening Gurukul Fellowship is a 12-week programme for which 12 candidates are selected each year as Gurukul Fellows from India. The 12-week residential course will be held at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. 

Sources told TNM that Annamalai has already attended a couple of pre-orientation programs related to the fellowship and will be heading to Oxford University in September. Meanwhile, the BJP high command is expected to appoint an acting president for the state and hectic parleys are underway as there are too many contenders for the post. 

The former IPS officer joined the BJP in August 2020. He called himself a ‘loyal foot soldier of the party’. Since he joined the party, Annamalai has been the centre of several controversies in the state. The first major issue was in July 2021 when he faced a massive scandal involving state general secretary KT Raghavan. Madan Ravichandran, a former journalist, BJP member and confidante of Annamalai, released a video of Raghavan allegedly asking for sexual favours from a woman party worker. Madan claimed he had proof to show the involvement of at least 15 other senior party leaders in similar issues.  

The next one was in January 2022, when 17-year-old Lavanya died in Thanjavur district. Her parents and the BJP alleged that she died by suicide after she was under pressure to convert to Christianity. It was Annamalai who rallied the party leaders to work closely with the VHP to politicise the incident.  

Following that, a series of four audio tapes were released by Annamalai in 2023, through which he alleged that the DMK government was involved in corruption. Titled ‘DMK files’, he claimed that the assets listed in part one of the audio tapes, purportedly worth Rs 1.34 lakh crore, are owned by 12 individuals, including Stalin’s family members and other senior leaders.

Read: Annamalai and the art of political gymnastics

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