Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vanathi Srinivasan emerged victorious over actor-politician Kamal Haasan from the Coimbatore (South) seat in the recently-held Tamil Nadu assembly election. Srinivasan won the seat with 52,627 votes, 1,540 more than the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief, with Congress leader Mayura S Jayakumar finishing third with 41,663 votes.

One of just four seats won by the saffron party in the state, the odds were stacked against Srinivasan prior to the election as the BJP had failed to win the seat for a decade. However, the 50-year-old’s positivity during the election campaign reverberated with the masses as she defied the odds and emerged victorious.

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During the election campaign, she promised free wi-fi service, a jewellery institute and a multi-storey car parking to ease the traffic in the bustling marketplace, which has been a priority for the people of the constituency. This year’s result builds on performance from the elections in 2016, when she was praised for innovative campaign strategies like “Coffee with Vanathi” and “ask Vanathi”, which helped her finish third with a 21.57% vote share.

People are also well aware of Srinivasan’s reputation as a dedicated worker. A lawyer by profession, she also serves as the party’s national women’s wing and a former member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

Born on June 6, 1970, into an agricultural family Srinivasan received her primary education in Coimbatore. She started practicing law at the Madras High Court in 1993, the same year she joined the BJP. She became an active member of the ABVP in 1988. During the peak of the political crisis in Tamil Nadu in 2017, the BJP used her to reach out to the AIADMK’s E K Palaniswami. 

She was made the national head of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha in October 2020, becoming the first woman from South India to hold the position.