Shed Brahminical tag, work on caste equations: BJP’s Tamil Nadu formula

Chennai, Jan 20 – The BJP which is eyeing 50 seats from the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls is trying to make a breakthrough in Tamil Nadu and win a few seats.

In the 2019 general elections, the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance (SPA) won 38 out of the 39 Lok Sabha seats, while the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the AIADMK could win only the Theni Lok Sabha seat wherein OP Ravindranath, Son of O Panneerselvam the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu won the seat after defeating senior Congress leader, EVKS Elangovan.

The BJP drew a blank in the 2019 general elections and could garner only 3.66 per cent of the total votes polled. Its alliance partners AIADMK got 19.39 per cent votes, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) received 5.36 per cent and the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) got 2.16 per cent of the vote share.

This shows that the BJP was a poor junior partner in the then National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Tamil Nadu as compared to the AIADMK.

While the BJP has won seats from Tamil Nadu, with the present Jharkhand Governor, CP Radhakrishnan winning from Coimbatore Lok Sabha seat and former Union Minister, Pon Radhakrishnan winning from Kanniyakumari Lok Sabha seat, both are highly popular grass root leaders in their respective constituencies.

In fact, CP Radhakrishnan has a strong say in his Goundar community while Pon Radhakrishnan has a good grip in the Nadar community to which he belongs.

In a broader perspective, the BJP is a political party proudly displaying its Hindutva roots and culture but at a micro level if it wants to win polls in a state like Tamil Nadu where there is a huge influence of caste in local politics, the saffron party will have to consider caste factors.

The victories of both CP Radhakrishnan and Pon Radhakrishnan in earlier Lok Sabha polls have been attributed to their castes in addition to the political support of the BJP.

This will be the thought process in the BJP think tank shaping its poll campaign for the 2024 elections.

The party has a trump card in its state President, K Annamalai whose aggressive positioning against corruption and strong stands against the ruling DMK and the Opposition AIADMK has earned him good support in the Hindu vote bank of the BJP in the state.

The BJP will also be banking on the strong political statement it has made by curbing rampant Islamic extremism in the state by putting a ban on the Popular Front of India and rounding up its senior leaders during an operation in September 2021.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s frequent visits to the state and the Centre’s support for various projects in Tamil Nadu is also a shrewd move to create a different political line in the Dravidian heartland where national parties like the BJP and Congress are second fiddle.

Plus, K Annamalai, the IPS officer-turned-politician has taken the bull by its horns and criticised certain actions of the highly-revered Dravidian leader CN Annadurai.

CN Annadurai was the first Chief Minister of a Dravidian party of Tamil Nadu, who was instrumental in relegating the Congress to the second or third position in Tamil politics.

Annamalai also came out heavily against former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, late Dr J. Jayalalithaa, even while the BJP was a coalition partner of the AIADMK and ultimately the AIADMK walked out of the NDA alliance.

It may be recalled that in the 2021 Assembly elections, the BJP won four Assembly seats in alliance with the AIADMK. Now, with the AIADMK not with the NDA in the 2024 elections, it would be a major stumbling block for the party.

Political pundits are predicting that the possibility of senior BJP leaders, including the Prime Minister, stressing on an alliance with the AIADMK are high.

If the BJP wants to increase its South Indian tally, then it has to win at least a few seats from Tamil Nadu and the revival of the alliance with the AIADMK is the only possibility for winning even a single seat from the state.


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