Why Tamil Nadu will be most exciting for me to watch in GE2014

As I was browsing news on a Friday night, I happened to hit upon this piece http://www.firstpost.com/politics/alagiri-meets-rajnath-offers-support-to-bjp-in-tamil-nadu-1434891.html . Interestingly it in the morning I had seen another news bit http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/alagiri-meets-rajinikanth-denies-discussing-politics/1/349548.html . For a moment I had thought that the firstpost news was the same as I saw in the morning, so much for the Rajnath Rajinikanth closeness in names. When I looked carefully, I saw that Alagiri has actually offered support to the BJP . This is another twist in the already interesting Tamil Nadu battle for Loksabha 2014

With the political scenario fast changing, it is yet to say that the alliances are final in Tamil Nadu, but for now it appears that it will be AIADMK vs BJP-MDMK-PMK-DMDK vs DMK - three cornered. There is indeed the Congress , Communists, Chaoists (you know who), but as long as they stand alone without an alliance, they are most likely to lose their deposit. In fact there are some smaller parties also in the rainbow alliance that BJP has knitted in Tamil Nadu. The seat sharing is not yet final and official, Tamil Nadu goes to poll on Apr 24 (ref: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/lok-sabha-elections-2014-all-the-dates-that-you-need-to-know-1420021.html ) so it should be out in a week or so. Deep within, this seems to be the state that I am most curious about. Read on

First and foremost, it is a state where BJP has nothing much to lose. So it is more or less tension free to follow it. In fact I am even interestingly watching how the alliance will split the seats - with DMDK demanding 14 or so, MDMK and PMK perhaps asking for close to 10 each, BJP will be left with just 5. So is it worth the effort for BJP ?


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tamil_Nadu_Lok_Sabha_results_chart.png

I think the following factors may have weighed in - on the one hand, Jayalalitha - known as a friend of Modi even when Modi was at the peak of his being criticised - and AIADMK in spite of being seen as a potential NDA post-polls seemed to be in no mood to have a pre-poll alliance.  It must have been futile for BJP to try. Though perhaps a good number of AIADMK volunteers and supporters themselves may have been in support of a pre-poll alliance with the BJP, Jayalalitha wants to get the maximum seats on her own to be an important player in the center, if not a PM candidate herself. BJP naturally did not want an alliance with DMK which is on the down-graph and also immersed in corruption. It is here that the rainbow alliance idea seems to have kicked and here is what BJP would gain

1) Unlike a case where BJP may have been a junior partnet to a big party like AIADMK and there by not able to assess its own strength and grow alliance with smaller parties will actually help it to grow, if properly dealt with.

2) How much ever Jaya is friends with Modi, in politics there are no permanent allies. So while keeping the post poll alliance with Jaya still a possibility, BJP through its pre-alliance also is perhaps hoping to try to get as many seats as possible so that Jaya doesn't end up with a 35 kind of number and making her a real big player. Jaya with a 25 will much more easier for BJP to handle. This is not to say that BJP will be happy to covertly help DMK bag the rest of the 14. On the contrary it will be trying its best to have this pre-poll alliance bag atleast 10 of that 14

3) A third factor, which actually may have been the most dominant is Modi's general line of thought in this election - Congress Mukt Bharat . Imagine if it were Congress who had come up with an alliance like this, it would have still kept the party alive in the state. By taking along all these parties, Modi has almost ensured that the Congress party is decimated in the state - in fact its leaders like Chidambaram, Jayanthi Natarajan et al are running away from even contesting http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/congress-leaders-opting-out-lok-sabha-polls-chidambaram-natarajan/1/349430.html . DMK-Congress alliance is still a possibility though such a move will mostly hurt the DMK more.

4) The only times BJP won seats in TN were in 1998 in alliance with AIADMK and 1999 in alliance with DMK. In 1998 it got to contest 5 seats of which it won 3. In 1999 the numbers were 6 and 4 respectively. Coimbatore, Nilgiris and Trichy were won both times by BJP and in 1999 there was additionally Nagercoil. In 1998 it came second in Chennai South and Nagercoil, while in 1999, it came second in Sivaganga and Tenkasi. That adds up to 3 (won twice) + 1 (won once, second once) + 3 (second once) = 7 seats. Even if it gets to contest that many in the ranbow alliance this time, it is more than what they got to contest in 1998 and 1999 , so its still a gain in that sense. How many of these will finally be won will be interesting to watch. Interestingly both MDMK and PMK were part of the BJP alliance in 1998 and 1999, but the "main party" - AIADMK and DMK respectively are not this time ! 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_general_election_in_Tamil_Nadu,_1998
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_general_election_in_Tamil_Nadu,_1999

InterestinglyMDMK-PMK were in DMK alliance in 2004 (alliance swept all 39 seats) and in AIADMK alliance in 2009 (alliance got 12 seats) , and this will be the first time they are going outside AIADMK/DMK, so it will be much more of a do-or-die battle for them as compared to the BJP

So put that all together and it looks like the BJP strategy could range anywhere from "not bad" to "brilliant" - we will know on May 16 !

post script: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/specials/lok-sabha-elections-2014/news/TRS-turns-to-BJP-after-trouble-in-alliance-talks-with-Congress/articleshow/31959608.cms?intenttarget=no If BJP seals a pre-poll alliance with TRS in Telengana and TDP in seemandhra, it will almost ensure a 272+ for NDA.. well almost !



Comments

Anonymous said…
It seems DMDK gets 14, PMK & BJP 8 each, MDMK 7 , IJK and KMK 1 each. Its a 6 party alliance, 1 short of a rainbow - one could say the 7th factor is Alagiri and that makes in a rainbow.

The general feeling in Tamil Nadu seems to be that Jayalalitha should not have expressed interest in PM post. TN is still in a developing phase, and there are lot of items to be completed - like infra structure projects, electricity problem and so on. Without doing those if Jaya tries to switch over to the center, that is seen as greediness.

I think she is slowly realizing that - the initial enthusiasm to project herself as a National leader, has significantly tones down. Tamil Nadu has a habit of making the opinion poll fellows get it wrong. Currently most polls have predicted about 25 for Jaya and 14 for Karuna. That is most likely going to be wrong, DMK will not win more than 4 seats. How the 35 (or more) seats will get split between AIADMK and the rainbow alliance will be interesting to watch. There is no guarantee that AIADMK will support NDA post-poll, so for all those Tams who want to see Modi as PM, better vote rainbow
MUTHU said…
As per the new deal BJP gets Tirupur, and Captains party gets Tiruchy. You are right, these smaller parties have always fired sitting on the shoulders of AIADMK or DMK. This time, they will have to depend on their own strength plus the Modi factor. In my opinion that is where this has been a good move by BJP - that all these parties will now promote Modi and try to maximize his impact. If BJP were in an alliance with AIADMK, Jayalalitha would have continued to be the main figure and Modi would have had to campaign in Tamil Nadu under her shadow - Jaya would have never promoted Modi enthusiastically. But for these smaller parties, they don't have nothing much to lose trying to promote and make use of the Modi factor. Win-win for BJP
Muthu said…
Also, DMDK is slightly over hyped. I don't think it should have got 14 seats in the alliance. Ideal case should have been 12 for dmdk, 9 for BJP, 8 each for PMK and MDMK, 2 for smaller parties. But leave that for now since it is finalized. It is now on Captain to prove that he is worth the 36% share he got in seat sharing. If his party can win 6 out of that 14 seats, it can emerge as a future force to reckon with. If he gets 3 or less, his future may be bleak.
selvi said…
If DMK is wiped out and BJP alliance emerges as main opposition party to Jaya, it will be good for Tamil Nadu