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  Opinion   Edit  19 Mar 2024  AA Edit | BJP looks South: DMK to fight

AA Edit | BJP looks South: DMK to fight

Published : Mar 20, 2024, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Mar 20, 2024, 12:05 am IST

Tamil Nadu's Electoral Chessboard: BJP's Emerging Influence and Alliance Dynamics

DMK chief MK Stalin (PTI)
 DMK chief MK Stalin (PTI)

The alliances in Tamil Nadu are all but tied up as the date for filing nominations to the Lok Sabha elections is upon us. The traditional Dravidian duopoly state saw a few minor changes in alliances once again after the ruling national party, the BJP, took unusual interest in Tamil Nadu, perceived to be the key to the south.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ frequent visits have raised the profile of the party for whom its local chief K. Annamalai has considerable groundwork. The least expectation is that the BJP’s vote share will go up as opposed to it drawing a blank in seats in 2019 when the DMK, on a comeback trail, was the dominant force after the death of AIADMK’s supremo, J. Jayalalithaa.

There is every likelihood of the BJP finishing second in terms of vote share in the state, regardless of whether that share would translate into winning any of the 39 seats on offer. To that extent, the BJP may have stolen a march over Edappadi K. Palaniswami’s AIADMK, which has been largely friendless in the pre-poll scene.

Alliance arithmetic has always been thought of as important, if not crucial, in the Dravidian duopoly that stretches back to the 1970s with the birth of AIADMK after DMK’s sensational victory in 1967. That may be a reason why the BJP welcomed an ally in the caste party PMK representing the Vanniyars. The likes of PMK, VCK, MDMK and DMDK, besides the Left, may not be imposing players capable of sweeping elections, but their numbers have always added to the winner’s tally either way.

It is the ruling DMK and its imposing front that includes the Congress, now a constant DMK piggyback rider for the last 20 years, that may be severely tested in repeating its 38-1 performance. Anti-incumbency, mismanagement of four northern and four southern coastal districts during the massive floods of 2023 and a perceived weakness in the state’s western belt, besides unwarranted comments against Sanatan Dharma, may add up to the front losing a few seats. It would be interesting to see if, in the process, the BJP is the gainer in a state that has, along with Kerala, always been thought of as the last bulwarks against the ‘northern’ party.

Tags: aa edit, chief minister m.k. stalin, 2024 lok sabha elections