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BJP state president K Annamalai made two claims about the party’s performance in his press conference on the day the urban local body poll results were announced: that the BJP scored 15% of overall vote share in Coimbatore corporation and had come second in many of the wards displacing AIADMK in Chennai. He also went on to say that if the BJP and AIADMK join hands they would be the winners in Coimbatore today.
The vote share numbers of the parties and candidates have been released by the state election commission. They show that while Annamalai may not be too off the mark in the two claims, the fine print shows that no inference can be made that the BJP has improved its performance in any significant way.
In terms of vote share, the BJP has bagged 7.7% of votes in Corporation wards, 3.3% in municipality wards and 4.3% in town panchayat wards. These overall numbers don’t indicate any upsurge since a large part of these votes come from Kanniyakumari. The BJP, on its part, has pointed out that it has contested in fewer than half of the seats. But that is yet another indication that it is likely even weaker in these places and struggled to find candidates.
In terms of vote share, the BJP has bagged 7.7% of votes in Corporation wards, 3.3% in municipality wards and 4.3% in town panchayat wards. These overall numbers don’t indicate any upsurge since a large part of these votes come from Kanniyakumari.
It is true that the BJP has shown some presence in Chennai and Coimbatore, although it must be said that Coimbatore is one of two districts where the BJP has grown over several decades. In Coimbatore, the BJP has campaigned to create communal polarization between Hindus and Muslims and succeeded to an extent. In Kanniyakumari, the growing population of Christians and the strength of the church has given a handle for the BJP.
In Coimbatore Corporation, the party has bagged some 80,000 votes while the total valid votes are a little over 8 lakh. In terms of percentage the BJP has 9.5% votes, belying Annamalai’s claims about the party’s performance.
In Chennai Corporation, the BJP has indeed come second in some 20 wards out of 200 wards, pushing the AIADMK to third place in them. The BJP won in one ward. The party got a vote share of 8% in Chennai.
Here are some reasonable inferences that can be made regarding the BJP performance
The BJP’s seats and votes come largely from Kanniyakumari district where it has been historically strong
In Coimbatore too it has been strong but its performance is not remarkable. The party had a visible campaign in many places that doesn’t seem to have resonated
The BJP has tried to ensure that central schemes reach Tamil Nadu people. The state, for instance, leads in Mudra small business loans. More than 2 crore loans have been given out in Tamil Nadu totalling to more than Rs 60,000 crore. But all this hasn’t really helped the BJP expand its base.
The overall vote share and seat share are too miniscule to claim any breakthrough or even any increase in presence.
In Coimbatore Corporation, the party has bagged some 80,000 votes while the total valid votes are a little over 8 lakh. In terms of percentage the BJP has 9.5% votes, belying Annamalai’s claims.
In Chennai, where the AIADMK is historically weak, the BJP seems to have taken some of the votes that could have gone to the AIADMK. Nevertheless, even where it came second, the DMK front had two or three times the votes that the BJP bagged. So the second place is a very distant second.
The BJP has registered some presence in Sowcarpet-George Town area which has a significant north Indian population, Nanganallur-Madipakkam area with a big brahmin population, as well as some pockets in north Chennai.
Most observers say there was a tacit understanding with the AIADMK, whereby the Dravidian party would keep a low profile and leave the field open for BJP. Annamalai insisted in his press conference that the alliance with the AIADMK will continue in 2024.
Perhaps the best plausible outcome for the BJP would be if the AIADMK continues to weaken and the BJP gains its votes and eventually gobbles it up in the long term. But, if in regular life, we are all dead in the long term, in politics we are six feet under even earlier.
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