Sunil Kanugolu has previously worked on the 2014 Narendra Modi election campaign and DMK’s Tamil Nadu poll campaign. He also led the BJP’s Association of Billion Minds – a strategy war room for state polls.
Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palaniswami (File | PTI)
K Palaniswami-led AIADMK government has swung into election mode and has roped in strategist Sunil Kanugolu for the policy as well as poll consultation. Some recent changes in the chief minister’s working strategy are being attributed to Sunil Kanugolu.
Sunil Kanugolu, a former consultant with McKinsey, has earlier been a key member of the 2014 Narendra Modi election campaign, along with Prashant Kishor. Post-2014 general elections, Sunil ran the DMK’s state assembly election campaign in 2016. The DMK lost the election with a mere one per cent margin. Sunil was then credited for significantly boosting MK Stalin’s image and was the brain behind “Namakku Naame” – We for ourselves campaign.
In 2016, Sunil Kanugolu headed the Association of Billion Minds (ABM) for BJP. The ABM was the strategy war room for the party. He led the ABM and played a significant role in the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka election campaigns. In all these elections, the BJP won or emerged as the single largest party.
Sunil Kanugolu was roped in to handle the DMK’s Lok Sabha elections in 2018, soon after DMK lost the RK Nagar bypoll to TTV Dinakaran. Over the next one year, the DMK strategy was to build a strong anti-Modi wave in Tamil Nadu, and it was strategised by Sunil Kanugolu. It strategy gained huge traction, leading the DMK alliance to win 39 of 40 Lok Sabha seats in 2019.
After Sunil’s resignation from the DMK in November 2019, the party roped in Prashant Kishor in December. Sensing the opportunity, the ruling AIADMK made several attempts and succeeded in convincing Sunil Kanugolu to assist them in the upcoming state elections in 2021. Presently, he is advising Chief Minister EK Palaniswami on policy-related issues.
A top AIADMK party source said, “There is activity in party restructuring now, starting from gram panchayat level. A new IT wing has been formed. Many changes at the district level are expected soon. The party is moving into election mode.” Sunil Kanugolu has told the party leadership to concentrate on strengthening the party.
Sunil is a native of Karnataka but was brought up in Chennai. Even though Sunil has kept a low profile to date, he is highly regarded in the political circles.