Today is a big day for the BJP in Kerala, that opened its account for the first time in the southern state's political history.
Former Union minister, 86-year-old O Rajagopal won from Nemom assembly constituency in Thiruvananthapuram by over 8,000 votes. He defeated outgoing two-time sitting CPI-M legislator V Sivankutty. [LIVE: Kerala Assembly Poll Results 2016]
Born on Sept 15, 1929, Rajagopal was born to Madhavan Nair and O Konhikkavu Amma of Olanchery veedu at Pudukkode Panchayath in Palakkad.
After completing his law education from Chennai, he began practicing law in 1956 at the Palakkad District Court.
Rajagopal's political career began as a national executive council member in the Jan Sangh in 1964-67. In 1974, he became the State General Secretary of Jana Sangh and in 1977, he was promoted to the post of President.
He is a household name in Trivandrum, thanks to his contributions as Union Minister of State for Railways and also Parliamentary Affairs during the NDA rule.
After Jan Sangh was split in 1980, Rajagopal served as BJP's Kerala president until 1985. In 1989, he unsucessfully contested for a Lok Sabha from Manjeri town in Malappuram district.
Rajagopal had contested the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat in 1999, 2004 and 2014. He finished in the second place (lost by over 15,000 votes) behind Shashi Tharoor of the Congress in 2014.
He contested the Lok Sabha elections as a Janata Party candidate in 1980 from Kasargod and lost. He was elected twice to the Rajya Sabha in 1992 to 2004 (from Madhya Pradesh) and 1998 from outside Kerala.
In October 1999, he became Minister of State for Law, Justice and Company affairs with additional charge of Parliamentary Affairs in the Vajpayee Government.
Speaking to reporters at the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters here, an excited and happy Rajagopal said with his victory, the surge of the BJP in Kerala will now begin.
"Everyone, including the CPI-M and the Congress party, was saying that the BJP will not open its account in Kerala," said Rajagopal.
"A.K. Antony ridiculed us by saying that the BJP will have to take a visitor's pass to the assembly and take its seat in the visitors' gallery," he said.
He had contested the 2011 assembly polls from Nemon and came second. In a 2012 by-election in Neyyatinkara, he got more than 30,000 votes but could not win.
Until Rajagopal's victory, the BJP had never won an assembly or Lok Sabha seat in Kerala.