“Hindutva Politics Not Rejected”: Tamil Nadu BJP Chief On Big Poll Defeat


K Annamalai, the BJP’s Tamil Nadu chief, has said the party’s poor showing in the Lok Sabha election in the southern state does not constitute “rejection of Hindutva brand of politics”.  “We will introspect and learns lessons from what went wrong. I am unhappy about no victory for BJP in Tamil Nadu… we got many hits and misses. But Tamil Nadu results are not a rejection of Hindutva brand of politics,” he said.

He also dismissed suggestions the party may have fared better had it retained ties with the AIADMK, one of two major parties in Tamil Nadu’s Dravidian-focused political landscape.  The Tamil party – also routed, and which also lost the 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 Assembly poll as a BJP ally – quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance last year.

This was after Mr Annamalai criticised party icons J Jayalalithaa and CN Annadurai. The under-fire BJP leader had then refused to back down and declared that going solo would strengthen the party.

“Alliance with AIADMK didn’t work in the past… no point in looking back,” he said today.

Mr Annamalai also junked talk of the BJP’s underwhelming show in the 2024 Lok Sabha election – the party has, for the first time in three polls, failed to cross the 272-majority mark on its own, and must actively rely on NDA partners, including Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar, to form the government.

“The Prime Minister (Narendra Modi, who will be sworn in for a third term Saturday) is not weakened by a coalition. Modiji is democratic,” the Tamil leader insisted.

The BJP and its muscular nationalist model has traditionally struggled with Tamil voters.

In the 2014 poll, while most of India was enticed by the ‘Modi wave’, Tamil Nadu was largely unmoved. The BJP got just one of its 39 seats; Pon Radhakrishnan won from Kanniyakumari. In 2019 the BJP was routed – zero seats and the vote share fell to 3.6 per cent.

Ahead of the 2024 election Mr Modi made nearly a dozen visits to Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala to campaign for the BJP, which had identified the southern states (and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) as key in helping break the 400-seat barrier.

However, the high-profile campaign, which included Amit Shah also making appearances, failed to produce results. The BJP was blanked in Tamil Nadu for a second straight election, although it came a distant second in 10 seats and its vote share (including allies) rose to 10.24 per cent.

A local ally – the Pattali Makkal Katchi – was leading the Dharmapuri seat, but that was snapped up by the ruling DMK’s A Mani after a close fight. That was about as good as it got for the BJP.

Mr Annamalai, contesting from Coimbatore, was thumped by the DMK’s Ganpathy Rajkumar by nearly 1.2 lakh votes. Another high-profile BJP candidate, ex-Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, lost the Chennai (South) battle.

The ruling DMK, which is a member of the INDIA bloc, orchestrated a clean sweep. The party won 22 seats, the Congress got nine, and smaller outfits picked up the rest. And with the Congress also winning Puducherry, the DMK-led front completed a neat 40/40 this election.

 K Annamalai, the BJP’s Tamil Nadu chief, has said the party’s poor showing in the Lok Sabha election in the southern state does not constitute “rejection of Hindutva brand of politics”.    

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