Buoyed by the civic body poll results in Tamil Nadu, the state BJP has a herculean task ahead of raising the number of MPs from the southern state by the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. K Annamalai, BJP state president, in an exclusive interview to News18, said the party is on a mission to give the significant number of MPs to the Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
“We are on Mission 2024 and it will be a game changer. We will give significant number of MPs from Tamil Nadu for Narendra Modi’s cabinet,” said Annamalai.
Policeman-turned-politician Annamalai also maintained that the task to win Parliamentary seats in the state is a challenge but the party is “absolutely” ready for it. He also said Tamil Nadu can be “39-0” where the BJP and its allies can get all 39 MPs and “gift them” to PM Modi.
PM Modi had called Annamalai congratulating him over the party’s performance in the February 22 local body elections.
The state president, too, has all the praises for the PM. “He has been very kind. Every time Tamil Nadu makes progress, PM congratulates us. PM holds Tamil people very close to his heart. He has abundance of love for Tamilians,” the BJP leader stated.
The party had contested only 50% of the seats. According to a tweet by BL Santhosh, BJP’s national general secretary (organization), out of 1,69,07,400 total votes polled, the BJP received 9,48,734 votes. “We have made a mark. Around 51% candidates, 323 councillors, 5.61% votes,” tweeted Santhosh.
In the previous elections, the BJP had secured four seats in the municipal corporation and this time it has secured 22 seats. In the municipality, it got 37 seats last time, which it improved to 56 this time. In town panchayat, the saffron party had secured 185 seats in the polls, which has been improved to 230.
The state president said he believes the BJP is reaching out to more people in every election. “In 2024, we will have 100% reach,” he added.
The Challenges BJP Faces
Annamalai denies that the BJP has any roadblock in the state. “Tamil Nadu has channels with highest TRPs where DMK keeps setting the narrative. Many a times, the fake news gets circulated and the real news gets drowned in those noises,” he said.
Another perceived obstacle is that every political party is against the BJP as it is the only party with a nationalist mindset. “So, you don’t have a single enemy but eight nine parties against you. Other states will have a single enemy or the fight is more on the ideological front. Here, we have to take on eight to nine ideologies,” Annamalai pointed out.
No Dravidian but Modi’s Development Model
Responding to DMK chief MK Stalin calling victory a recognition of the Dravidian model, Annamalai said the “only model is that of PM Modi’s development model”.
“DMK’s Dravidian model is of money, muscle power and freebies. It should showcase development and not money power. Tamil Nadu has a rich culture and people grow sans political parties as well. DMK is a dynasty model whereas we are relying on Narendra Modi’s development model,” quipped the BJP state president.
He further said too much should not be read into the DMK winning Theni, the hometown of AIADMK coordinator O Pannerselvem, as local body polls go in favour of ruling party especially when anti-incumbency is yet to set in.
Analysis of Results
The state president said BJP’s vote share has almost doubled this time as it made inroads into Cuddalore, Madurai and Vellore – the places where the party has least presence.
“It is after 20 years that the BJP has been able to get a councillor seat in Chennai. In urban areas, we are making inroads at a good speed and in rural areas, where the party was weak, it has made some impact,” said Annamalai.
He said he owes the success in the civic polls to the central schemes launched in the nearly eight years of PM Modi’s governance.
“The central government schemes have made direct transition in people’s lives. For example, if a person has taken a mudra loan four years back, he has turned his life around and that is what has impacted the results,” said K Annamalai.
On winning that one seat in Chennai, the state BJP president believes that the party could have done better had the DMK not indulged in influencing voters by distributing money, gifts and did antics on booths.
Annamalai alleged that voters were paid Rs 2,000 to vote for the DMK.
“Despite all this, the BJP managed to win a seat. It wasn’t a fair election, technically. The ruling government used everything. It was not normal this time as the DMK gave gifts such as anklets, boxes across the state. Also, DMK was a 13-party, alliance whereas we stood alone. If you look at totality, it was a good progress,” he added.
The Way Forward
The BJP is building on Modi’s image to strengthen the party in state of Tamil Nadu. “Unlike the negative propaganda that the DMK does, the love for PM in the state is unmatchable,” said the BJP state president.
Also, the party is planning to expand in southern parts of Tamil Nadu and to strengthen its base in semi-urban regions, and build the organisation.
“We need to have functionaries appointed and have booth committees in place. We are building the organisation. This election was a test as at many places we contested without booth committees,” said Annamalai.