Daughter of notorious smuggler Veerappan enters political arena; to contest Lok Sabha Polls from Krishnagiri

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Vidhya Rani, daughter of the infamous sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, known for his reign of terror in parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, is set to step into the political realm by contesting in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Krishnagiri constituency. Representing the Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NTK), a Tamil nationalist party, Vidhya Rani’s candidacy marks a significant move in her political journey.

An advocate by profession, Vidhya Rani initially joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in July 2020 and served as the Vice-President of its state youth wing. However, she recently switched allegiance to the NTK led by actor-director Seeman. Seeman made the announcement of Vidhya Rani’s candidacy during a public gathering in Chennai, where he introduced all 40 candidates fielded by the NTK across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Despite her controversial family background, Vidhya Rani is carving her own path in politics. Apart from her legal profession, she also manages a children’s school in Krishnagiri. Her connection with Bengaluru, where she pursued a law degree, holds significance in her life as it provided her with lifelong friendships and valuable experiences.

Reflecting on her relationship with her father, Vidhya Rani recalls a brief but impactful meeting during her childhood. She met Veerappan for the first and only time at her grandfather’s house in Gopinatham, where he encouraged her to pursue medicine and serve the people. This encounter left a lasting impression on Vidhya Rani and influenced her life choices, ultimately leading her into the realm of politics.

While some may find the policies of the NTK unconventional, the party’s popularity has been steadily increasing. Despite starting with a modest vote share of 1.1% in its debut elections in 2016, the NTK secured nearly 4% of the votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and further increased it to 6.7% in the 2021 assembly elections, emerging as the third-largest party in terms of vote share.

Vidhya Rani’s mother, Muthulakshmi, is associated with a political outfit led by MLA T Velmurugan. Veerappan, infamous for his involvement in elephant poaching, sandalwood smuggling, and high-profile kidnappings, met his end in an encounter with the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (STF) on October 18, 2004. Despite his criminal activities, Veerappan commanded a significant presence in the forests along the Sathyamangalam range, spanning Erode and Mysore districts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, leaving behind a legacy that continues to intrigue and polarize public opinion.

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