Tamil Nadu local body polls: BJP to ride on AIADMK’s shoulders to gain a foothold
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had an unsuccessful outing in the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu earlier this year, is eyeing the upcoming local body polls to make inroads into the southern state.
It is looking to ride on the shoulders of its ally—the state’s ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)—to register a win in the local body polls.
The BJP had contested the Kanyakumari, Thoothukudi, Coimbatore, Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga seats in the parliamentary elections but failed to win any of the seats.
Before this, the national party won the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat in 2014. It has not won any state elections since 2001 when party candidate H Raja contested successfully from the Karaikudi assembly seat.
After winning the by-polls for the two assembly seats this October, the AIADMK is in an upbeat mood to contest the local body polls, which is most likely to be held in December this year after a gap of eight years.
While the State Election Commission (SEC) is making hectic preparations to conduct these local body elections, the AIADMK and its allies the BJP, actor Vijayakanth’s Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam (DMDK) and S Ramadoss’ Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) have kick-started brainstorming sessions to prepare their poll strategy.
The BJP’s spokesperson of the Tamil Nadu unit K Kanimozhi said her party is hopeful of making an impact in the upcoming polls.
“Our party high-command has ordered us to analyse people’s problem at the ground level. We have strongholds in Vellore, Hosur, Nagercoil and Coimbatore corporations,” Kanimozhi said while speaking to HT.
“Our leaders will have dialogues with alliance leaders and it would be finalised. As of now, we have not decided anything about the places where we want to contest. Once our party-men submit their forms for contesting the LB polls, we will review that and would take a decision on it,” she said.
The BJP’s state organising secretary Kesava Vinayagam said they have asked workers willing to contest the polls to submit their application.
“The BJP workers, who want to contest in LB polls, should submit an application which states where and on what posts they want to contest. A selection committee will examine the application,” Vinayagam said.
P Parthasarathy, former DMDK legislator and deputy secretary, also said his party would conduct a high-level meeting soon to decide on the number of seats they want to contest under the AIADMK alliance.
“We are ready to contest in the LB polls at any time. Our leader Vijayakanth is all set to conduct a high-level meeting in the upcoming week about deciding the LB polls plans,” Parthasarathy told HT.
A former DMDK legislator and a top leader from Salem district said the party wants to contest in Thiruppur and Hosur city corporations.
“Thiruppur, Hosur and Madurai city corporations are our strongholds. However, we are hoping that AIADMK would give at least 15% to 20% of LB polls seats and two corporations. We are expecting Hosur and Thiruppur corporations,” the former MLA said.
The PMK’s spokesperson K Balu said his party would continue the alliance with the AIADMK in the LB polls.
“There will not be any change in the alliance. However, we are examining the possible seats to contest in the LB polls. We will inform our decision to AIADMK after our leader S Ramadoss takes a final call on the matter,” Balu said.
The DMK which is busy with preparation for its general council meeting in Chennai on November 11, will also discuss the LB polls, according to party general secretary K Anbazhagan.
“The DMK general council meeting to be held on November 11 would discuss the intraparty elections and the LB polls as well,” Anbazhagan said in a statement.
M Ramachandran, a senior DMK leader and MLA from Orathanadu constituency in Thanjavur district, said his party is not afraid of facing the LB elections.
“The AIADMK which fears a defeat has been avoiding the LB polls for the past eight years. We are about to discuss the LB polls strategy in the upcoming general council meeting on November 11,” the DMK legislator told HT.
However, the AIADMK’s senior leader and minister Rajendra Balaji on Sunday said the ruling party will defeat the DMK in these polls.
“The LB polls were postponed due to the DMK which filed cases against the election in 2016. However, our party will mark a historic victory in the LB polls. There will not be any tussles in handling our alliances,” Balaji added.
Senior political analyst Selvaraj Sankaraiah said the AIADMK wants to conduct the LB polls before the assembly elections in 2021.
“Since the AIADMK is in power now, the ruling party assumes it can easily win the LB polls. If it wins the LB polls, it will continue in the local body level power for the next five years,” Selvaraj said.
“In case, the AIADMK fails to form government in the 2021 assembly elections, it would rule the rural bodies with the support of its ally BJP, which is at the power in the Centre. As it is a big opportunity for establishing the party in the Tamil land, the BJP is keen that AIADMK government conduct the LB polls now,” he said.