BJP will win in both Tamil Nadu and Kerala! But in a Different form
For the BJP in Tamil Nadu, a victory means opening a legislative account and increasing its percentage of popular voters. In Kerala, the BJP which had opened its account in the 2016 elections, victory this time in 2021 means increasing the number of seats as well as enhancing its voting percentage. In Kerala, the people are caught between “the devil and the deep sea”. The defeat of the LDF Left Front – which looks almost certain –means the victory of the UDF led by the Congress. If that happens, then it can be rightly called, “well-deserved defeat of the Left” and “ill-deserved victory of the Congress” in Kerala. However, all said and done people’s mandate has to be respected, no matter who interprets the outcome in whatever possible way.
The two Southern States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala are unique in characteristics; politically speaking both the states are highly polarised with slight difference. While in Tamil Nadu the polarisation is between two regional parties – AIADMK and DMK – in Kerala, the polarisation is between two fronts – LDF and UDF – each led by national parties – Congress and CPM.
In both the states, there is very little chance for a third party – be it national or regional – to gain a foothold. In fact, the national parties – BJP and Congress – have to ride piggyback on either of the two regional parties and play second fiddle if it has to have some meaningful presence.
The 2021 elections in Tamil Nadu is taking place in the absence of two political giants belonging to opposite camps – Dr Kalaignar M Karunanidhi of the DMK and Puratchi Talaivi Dr J. Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK. Both dominated the political scene of Tamil Nadu for several decades; both have seen political upheavels of the worst and best kind. With their demise a few years ago, their outfits – DMK and AIADMK – are battling for power.
While the DMK led by Kalaignar’s son M.K.Stalin is trying to wrest power from AIADMK, the AIADMK, on the other hand, is fighting to retain power and carry on “Amma’s” legacy. AIADMK suffered a split after Jayalalithaa’s death but later the two factions patched up and has been carrying on the administration with Edapaddy Palaniswamy as Chief Minister and O. Panneerselvam as Deputy Chief Minister.
The BJP secured 3.8 percent of votes in Tamil Nadu in the 2016 elections without winning a single seat. The saffron party which is fighting hard in this 2021 elections has entered into electoral alliance with the ruling AIADMK. BJP’s position is unenviable; it had alliances with both the AIADMK as well as DMK when its members were in Vajpayee’s cabinet.
While the BJP is contesting 20 seats, including the high-profile Coimbatore South with its All India Mahila Morcha President Vanaati Srinivan pitted against cine actor Kamal Haasan, the AIADMK is contesting 171 and PMK – in alliance with AIADMK – is contesting 23 seats. BJP hopes to win about five to nine seats and is confident of increasing its percentage of votes to about 13 to 15 percent. Given the difficulty in a highly polarised state, this achievement would be a real good feat.
But the ever-increasing and backbone-breaking rates of petroleum products is proving extremely difficult for the BJP cadre to convince the people. With the BJP government at the Centre maintaining a stoical silence on this issue which is burning a hole in the pockets of the people on daily basis, the cadre are left helpless while the BJP’s opponents – DMK and others – are lambasting the saffron party to the core.
However, the advantage for the BJP and AIADMK is that both EPS and OPS have been functioning well after taking over the reigns of administration in the aftermath of the death of Puratchi Thalaivi Dr Jayalalithaa. Both – together – have proved that they are capable of carrying on Amma’s legacy forward with good people-centric programmes. AIADMK and BJP have been sending subtle but distinct message to the people that it would be in the best interest of Tamil Nadu to be in good books with the Centre!
Kerala, on the other hand, offers no third alternative; it looks like that the people have to choose between the UDF and LDF while the BJP is confident of increasing its number from one in 2016 to 15 in 2021 and also increase its voting percentage from 17 percent in 2016 to 21 percent in 2021. The entry of Metro Man E. Sreedharan has provided an intellectual and professional touch to the saffron party but since he (Sreedharan) is not a mass leader, it remains to be seen what impact his entry into BJP is going to have on the ground.
The brutal and cold-blooded killing of RSS and Hindu activists belonging to various organisations allegedly by the Leftist elements has left the people seething with anger and resentment; these are intense and widespread. However, people’s anger against the Left Parties may be exploited by the Congress-led UDF. In that way, the people are caught between the “devil and the deep sea” in Kerala.
Apart from the anger and resentment of the people due to the brutal murder of Hindu activists, the recent murky episode of gold bar smuggling allegedly with the involvement of high profile officers in the Kerala CMO has definitely damaged the image, credibility and reputation of the Left front. No wonder the Congress is looking at the Left discomfiture with a glee and perhaps smelling success.
The politics of duplicity and deceit played by both the Congress and the Left parties on the issue of Sabarimala will definitely be an advantage of the BJP but it will only to the extent of increasing its voting percentage and number of seats to some extent and not the extent of playing the king-maker role. Coming to power is absolutely ruled out.
The defeat of the Left front in Kerala – which looks almost certain – means the victory of the Congress-led UDF. If that happens, it is going to be a “well-deserved defeat” of the Left Parties and “ill-deserved victory” of the Congress. In that situation, the Congress will shout from rooftops and trumpet as well as its victory by saying that the victory of Rahul Gandhi in the2019 Lok Sabha elections from Wynad was the precursor to its victory in the 2021 assembly elections. Of Course, both has nothing to do with each other; the political situation is so polarised that if Left parties win, Congress loses and if the Congress loses, the Left parties win. This will continue till a third party, be it national party or a regional party makes a big headway in this highly polarised state.
By S. A. Hemanth FROM BENGALURU