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In Chennai, the BJP which went alone in the urban local body polls held recently got more than 10% of the votes in 50 of the 200 wards. For a party that had little presence on its own in the DMK bastion, the BJP performance in Chennai seemed to indicate growth. The BJP’s candidates came second in some 20 wards across the city displacing the AIADMK. Its voteshare percentage was in double digits in 30 more constituencies. Although the party won only one ward, its share in voting percentage was some 8% overall. If the AIADMK were to weaken further in coming months, the BJP, more than Kamal Haasan or Naam Tamilar, stands to gain.

There are 15 divisions and 200 wards in the Chennai Corporation. DMK contested in 168 of these and AIADMK in all the 200. The BJP contested in 198 wards. Uma Anand of the BJP won in West Mambalam – Kodambakkam Ward 134 with 5539 votes.

Among the 20 are Kodambakkam, Gopalapuram, Saligramam, Thiruvellikeni, Chepauk, Teynampet, Nanganallur, Velachery, Anna Nagar and so on. These are typical middle class localities in South Chennai with a substantial population of brahmins, salaried folks including in some in high positions, migrants from the north and so on. The  BJP campaign in Chennai had focused on its target voters and included door-to-door mobilization.

Also, those who didn’t vote for the DMK likely favoured the BJP since the AIADMK is now seen as a weakened force especially in Chennai which has historically been the DMK’s bastion. “There are many brahmins where I live, many senior citizens. The BJP focused on them. But overall, most voted for the DMK,” says Vignesh, a resident of Gopalapuram.

Although the party won only one ward, its share in voting percentage was some 8% overall.

Muskan Jain, a resident of Sowcarpet, said the DMK was performing well as the ruling party in the state. A college student, she says it was natural that the DMK should win and she favoured the party herself. But Muskan said many of her friends and family voted for the BJP in the Chennai Corporation elections.

The BJP plays its own votebank politics though it decries this tendency in others. But it must be that beyond upper caste Hindus and north Indians, many others have voted for the BJP in Chennai. For many who didn’t want to vote for the Dravidian parties, the BJP is an option as a national party. The Congress has faced a nationwide decline in recent years.

In addition, questions over the functioning of the leadership in the AIADMK after the passing away of Jayalalithaa have made the AIADMK look weaker especially outside western Tamil Nadu. For many of the AIADMK voters, the BJP is an option especially since the two parties have converged on many occasions. In north Chennai wards such as Madhavaram and MMDA colony.

Gowtham who lives in Korukkupet says he typically votes for one of the two Dravidian parties. This time he said he voted differently and for those who encourage young people. “I hope my vote helped to spark a change,” he said.

The recent flood in Chennai seems to have become a distant memory already. The postponement of local body polls has had its desired impact, apparently. Many voters said they did not consider the flood while voting for or against the DMK.


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