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In Ward 124 of Chennai Corporation that falls in Mylapore, DMK’s K Vimala won with 7,500 votes. AIADMK got 3,360 votes and BJP 2,560 votes. So, where did BJP’s brahmin vote go?

The ward has always been represented by either DMK or AIADMK. Yet, due to the BJP’s performance in the Assembly election and with Mylapore having a large population of brahmins, it seemed that the saffron party stood a chance of winning this ward. But that was not to be. Still, it can be said that the BJP’s candidate Durga came a close third to AIADMK’s second.

An informal and random survey of people near the Mylapore temple tank reveals that many brahmins did not vote, in part due to apathy and also due to polling centers being too far away for elderly people to reach. Others were quite critical of the BJP.

Subramanian who runs a small business, says “Brahmins have a casual attitude to voting. They feel, ‘what harm is going to be caused if I don’t vote’. That’s why many didn’t vote.”

“If they had all voted, maybe BJP would have won.”

Subramanian who runs a small business, says “Brahmins have a casual attitude to voting. They feel, ‘what harm is going to be caused if I don’t vote’. That’s why many didn’t vote.”

He also feels that the BJP failed in its duties as a party in an electoral democracy. He says the poorer people in the area were not familiar with the party and that the BJP’s workers did nothing to popularize the welfare schemes introduced by the BJP government at the Centre. “The central government’s welfare schemes were not conveyed effectively to the people,” he says, indicating that it would have made a difference in the vote.

A woman who has a small shop near the Kapaleeswarar temple says, “DMK and AIADMK have been taking turns in winning here. How can we vote for BJP that has come in between?” She also echoes a belief that is common among voters that the vote should go to the ruling party in the state government: “DMK is in power now. Only if we vote for them, will we get benefits. Voting for the BJP will not give us any benefit,” the woman, who did not wish to be identified, says.

“People are unhappy with the BJP because of Modi,” she adds.

Perhaps explaining why, Seetha, who has a flower shop near the temple, says, “GST, gas cylinder price rise, petrol price rise and diesel price rise are all because of the BJP government. If we go to a restaurant, they are charging more because of GST. Gas cylinder costs up to Rs 1,000 now. We don’t get the subsidy properly. People here don’t support the BJP.”

Apart from anger with the BJP’s policies at the Centre that were leading to price rise, the reason the party missed out on votes also seems to be that many polling centers were shifted from earlier spots, and not all voters were aware. “About 15 polling centers have been shifted. There was a lot of confusion about where to vote. People didn’t want to go four streets across to vote,” says Seetha.

Seetha, who has a flower shop near the temple, says, “GST, gas cylinder price rise, petrol price rise and diesel price rise are all because of the BJP government. If we go to a restaurant, they are charging more because of GST. Gas cylinder costs up to Rs 1,000 now. We don’t get the subsidy properly. People here don’t support the BJP.”

A senior citizen who was standing by his bike on one of the Mada streets asks, “How will older people walk a long distance to vote? We were not informed properly about where to vote. I have a bike. So, I could vote.” He too feels that if all of them had gone to vote, the BJP may have won. “Many brahmins did indeed want the BJP to win but God did not think that way,” he adds.

Another senior citizen who was waiting outside an ATM says he didn’t know where he had to go to vote. “How can I strain myself to vote? What is the point of an old man like me voting? I didn’t vote,” says the 78-year-old man.

“A majority of the people did not come out to vote,” says Durga, the BJP candidate of the ward.  “Brahmins in particular did not come out to vote. Since the polling centers have been moved, many senior people did not vote. For that reason, our vote tally reduced. If the polling centers had not been changed or if the election officials had widely publicized the shift in polling centers, then there would have been no confusion. Even the address of the polling center was not clearly mentioned,” she adds. “A few voters went to two-three polling booths before they were able to locate their booth and cast their vote. Even I went to three booths before I could finally vote at the fourth booth.”

Durga BJP Candidate

“I am happy though we lost,” Durga who placed third says, having bagged 17% of the votes polled.

Durga also points out that people perhaps did not take the local body elections seriously. “Many educated people did not vote. They probably thought this is only local body polls, so why vote? There should be more awareness among educated people on why local body elections are important. Voters should vote. That they didn’t come out to vote is the problem,” she says.

In a ward where there are 15,000 votes, only 38% of votes had been cast.

Given the circumstances, Durga’s third place is not a bad deal. “I am happy though we lost,” she says, having bagged 17% of the votes polled.


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