Analysis: Biggest Takeaways From Election Results In 3 Southern States


Tamil Nadu : A DMK Sweep, BJP’s Annamalai Comes Up Short

In Tamil Nadu, it is clear that state BJP president Annamalai’s campaign and the party’s overwhelming focus on breaching the Dravidian fortress has still failed to win seats.

The DMK-led INDIA alliance in the state has firmly held on to its bastion and won an absolute sweep – 39 of 39, one more than the 38 it won last time. Vote shares reflect that the AIADMK is clearly the second largest party, but the BJP too has a double-digit vote share at 11 per cent, placing third, ahead of the Congress’s 10 per cent. But the Congress contested fewer seats than the BJP, so their vote shares may not be comparable.

Annamalai did rack up the BJP’s highest votes in the state in Coimbatore, but lost by more than a lakh votes to the DMK’s Ganapathy Rajkumar.

The BJP managed a second spot in key seats like Chennai South, Chennai Central and Tirunelveli, apart from Coimbatore, and the NDA emerged as second in 12 seats.

This is new to Tamil Nadu, where the number one and two spots have traditionally alternated between the AIADMK and DMK. However, this result emphatically reflects the reality of Tamil Nadu politics. The only chance at winning any seat is still in a tie-up with one of the two Dravidian parties.

For the moment, the BJP’s own Dravidian ambition is still struggling to take off.

Karnataka: BJP-JDS hold out, Congress Gains But Falls Short

In Karnataka, the BJP-Janata Dal Secular alliance has shown that it has traction. Though the Congress managed to win nine seats, up eight from 2019, its performance is below expectations in a state where it took power just last year. The Congress swept Hyderabad Karnataka or Kalyan Karnataka – Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s home turf – with five seats, but in the old Mysuru region, where it had swept the assembly polls, it managed just two Lok Sabha seats.

Congress state president DK Shivakumar’s brother DK Suresh lost the Bengaluru Rural seat and that has given the JDS the power to reassert itself in its bastion, the OBC Vokkaliga belt. The JDS won two of the three seats it contested. With Shivakumar taking the big hit, the results place his in-house rival Siddaramaiah, the Chief Minister, firmly in charge for the rest of his term. The JDS, however, will work on rebuilding itself and the wily HD Kumaraswamy, angling to become a union minister in the NDA government with possibly the agriculture ministry, could be a force to reckon with.

While the Congress’s vote share was at around 45 per cent, about three per cent more than what it polled in the 2023 assembly election – in which it won 135 of 224 seats – it was almost 14 per cent up from its 2019 vote share. The BJP’s vote share was 46 per cent, almost 10 per cent up from the state polls. The combined BJP-JDS vote share was past the 50 per cent mark, which shows the alliance had traction and cohesion. Given that the BJP contested in lesser seats than 2019, the coalition’s vote share was equal to the BJP’s own vote share in 2019, but the seat conversion wasn’t as good.

Kerala: BJP debuts with Thrissur but Congress holds ground

Award-winning singer and actor Suresh Gopi has given the BJP its first Kerala break by winning the Thrissur Lok Sabha seat. The BJP’s high profile Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekar put up a tough fight in Shashi Tharoor’s Thiruvananthapuram and lost by just 16,000 votes. The BJP’s vote share has increased to about 16 per cent, up by just under 3 per cent. But the party’s seat-specific strategy worked in Thrissur, and almost worked in Thiruvananthapuram.

Shashi Tharoor has won a fourth term in parliament, but had anxious moments on counting day. The left receded to a distant third in Thiruvananthapuram, but it is clear that in select seats, the BJP is taking over the Left’s vote.

Apart from the BJP’s effort to build a Christian vote base, the internal local divisions in the Congress seem to have helped the BJP. Congress candidate K Muraleedharan, son of former chief minister and late Congress leader K Karunankaran, shifted to Thrissur from his Vattakara constituency. His sister Padmaja had switched to the BJP ahead of the polls and all of it seems to have worked against the Congress.

The Left front, which has won successive assembly elections, won just one seat, leaving the Congress-led UDF savouring an 18/20 win. The Congress in parliamentary polls and the Left in assembly elections has been a decade-long trend.

Rahul Gandhi is likely to keep the family seat of Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh and give up Wayanad, as the Congress needs to build itself in the Hindi heartland and take on the BJP. It will be interesting to see whom the party chooses for Wayanad. Will it be someone from the family?

 Award-winning singer and actor Suresh Gopi has given the BJP its first Kerala break by winning the Thrissur Lok Sabha seat.    

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