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Some police officers have been known to file First Information Reports on crime or law and order cases which later turned out to be F(alse) I(nformation) R(eport). Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai, a former police officer, has come out with a False Information Report to make out claims that his party has made a wonderful and brilliant performance in the urban local body polls and reached the number three position among the political parties in Tamil Nadu. Mercifully, he did not claim to be number one.
A close look at some of the figures thrown up by the BJP belies their claim of a remarkably improved performance or a number three status.
The BJP in the 2022 local body polls secured only 308 ward seats in all, which is more or less the same as the 272 it netted in the last polls in 2011 (on its own even at the time). On the other hand, the Congress has now finished with 592 seats, almost double the BJP number. The BJP claim that the Congress stood in alliance with the DMK and therefore the BJP performance should be considered superior is hollow. The large number of votes secured by the DMK and other allies in their wards includes the Congress votes, and vice versa. It is impossible to separate the wards of each party. The State Election Commission records the performance of parties based on seats won, and there ends the matter.
The BJP in the 2022 local body polls secured only 308 ward seats in all, which is more or less the same as the 272 it netted in the last polls in 2011 (on its own even at the time). On the other hand, the Congress has now finished with 592 seats, almost double the BJP number.
What Annamalai doesn’t say is that the Congress and other allies of the DMK had contested in very few seats compared to the BJP, as the DMK dominated the poll scene. On the other hand, the BJP fielded candidates in 40 to 50 per cent of the over 12,000 seats up for grabs. The BJP claim of an overall average of around 5 per cent is nothing to write home about since parties such as the Congress and PMK have in the past recorded averages of 7 to 8 per cent.
The BJP’s share of seats also shows a presence mainly in Kanyakumari district, and a couple of pockets in Coimbatore and Chennai. Of the 308 wards that the BJP won, 200 are from Kanyakumari district alone. So, its influence is concentrated in Kanyakumari, whereas out of the other 37 districts in which the BJP contested, it managed to win only 108 wards.
The BJP bagged just 22 Corporation councillor wards now, of which as many as 12 have come just from Nagercoil Corporation area, part of Kanyakumari district where BJP is in a strong position thanks to polarisation of the electorate on religious lines. In other areas of the State, the BJP managed to pick up only 10 more such seats, showing its negligible influence on the electorate. The party had only one seat to show in the prestigious Chennai district area, whereas the Congress registered 13 victories in Chennai, just 2 seats behind the AIADMK’s 15.
Even in Coimbatore district where the BJP claims it is as popular as the AIADMK, it won only one municipality ward member and five town panchayat ward member posts, while drawing a blank in the Coimbatore Corporation polls. Congress bagged nine Corporation councillor posts, 6 municipality ward member posts and 12 town panchayat ward member posts, a total of 27 wards against only 6 for the saffron party.
The BJP drew a blank in 10 districts—Chengalpattu, Villupuram, Tiruvallur, Kallakurichi, Dharmapuri, Tiruchirapalli, Nagapattinam, Pudukottai, Perambalur and Mayiladuthurai districts.
In terms of strike rate, the BJP could register a performance of only 1/198 seats contested in Chennai, an abysmally low percentage of 0.50 per cent, while the Congress has an impressive figure of 13/16 seats contested in the same Chennai region — a success percentage of 81.25! Which is quite phenomenal by any standards. The Left parties too have done better than the BJP in terms of strike rate. In Kanyakumari district too, the Congress has a better strike rate than the BJP. Here, as elsewhere in some pockets of the State, the alliance between the DMK and Congress had broken in several wards, leading to rebel candidates from the Congress and DMK working against each other.
Even in Coimbatore district where the BJP claims it is as popular as the AIADMK, the BJP won only one municipality ward member and five town panchayat ward member posts, while drawing a blank in the Coimbatore Corporation polls. On the other hand, the Congress bagged nine Corporation councillor posts, 6 municipality ward member posts and 12 town panchayat ward member posts, a total of 27 wards against only 6 for the saffron party. The CPM too has done better than the BJP in Coimbatore district.
Preliminary studies reveal that the BJP is by and large confined to Kanyakumari district (where it tries to cash in on the support of Hindu Nadars in a district sought to be divided on religious lines), a few pockets in Coimbatore (where it tries to reap dividends from the 1998 bomb blast) and Chennai (wherever there are a good number of Brahmins in the locality — in an exploitation of caste and religious factors).
In no way is the BJP a front-runner elsewhere in Tamil Nadu; in fact it lags far behind even the other political parties, let alone the DMK, AIADMK and Congress.
Once electoral data from across the State becomes available, a detailed analysis can be undertaken.
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