RK Nagar by-election: DMK may win, BJP will gain

RK Nagar, BJP, Election

Tamilnadu has been seeing several protests – few genuine and few orchestrated – over the past several months ever since the demise of Dr.J.Jayalalitha, former chief minister of Tamilnadu. Her death had left a void and chaos ensued. The Central Election Commissioner Mr.Syed Nasim Ahmed Zaidi, had announced RK Nagar by-elections which is to be held on April 12, 2017. Though DMK are the clear favorites, we are trying to see if BJP has any chance in the Tamil heartland. Several parties are in the race and several new parties have filed their nominations. This includes the party floated by the alleged niece of Jayalalitha, Ms. Deepa, who is alleged to have the support and backing of the Church.


Mr.Gangai Amaran as the BJP candidate for RK Nagar:

In the melee, BJP had announced Singer turned politician – the versatile Mr.Gangai Amaran as BJP’s candidate for the RK Nagar by-election (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/tamil/movies/news/rajinikanth-wishes-bjp-candidate-gangai-amaran/articleshow/57768073.cms). This would be Mr.Gangai Amaran’s first attempt at Politics. Apparently the Tamilnadu state unit of BJP had thrown its full support behind Mr.Gangai Amaran. According to the office of Election Commissioner, in March 2017 RK Nagar has about 2,62,109 eligible voters. Gender wise, About 1,28,000 are men and 1,34,000 are women. Third genders form about 109 in total. There will be a total of 256 booths and about 1842 officials will be involved in managing the situation. The Election Commission will engage 1024 fail-safe VVPAT based Electionic Voting Machines (EVMs) for the RK Nagar by-elections.

Gangai Amaran has a great connect with the people, especially of those who belong to his community. It is interesting to see Dalits and Brahmins of coming together in their support for Gangai Amaran. Given that these two communities form a majority of registered voters, BJP may stand to gain over the previous term. The “Caste” factor of Gangai Amaran can help BJP garner Dalit votes. The “Hindutva” stance of the party may help gain Brahmin votes.


The Right Wing Factor:

There has been some action and some evidence that BJP may actually gain significantly when compared to the last time. A significant percentage of AIADMK voters are traditionally right wing. During 2014 Lok Sabha elections, several BJP supporters had voted for AIADMK with a hope that Jayalalitha would act as a bridge between Tamilnadu and Centre. It is also true that this section of voters had actually voted for Jayalalitha as a person, rather than AIADMK as a party. It is expected that majority of these voters will gravitate towards the BJP than DMK.

Since 2001, AIADMK is winning RK Nagar Elections under the stewardship of Jayalalitha. And since 2015, Jayalalitha has personally won RK Nagar elections. It can be concluded that it is a strong AIADMK bastion. However, the popularity of the party has taken a hit as evident from the 2016 results. AIADMK has lost 32.56% of votes where as BJP had made inroads with 1.68% votes finishing just above the NOTA option in RK Nagar elections, 2016. However, this time DMK are the favorites.


Jayalalitha’s Mysterious Death and Split in the AIADMK

The discontent in Tamilnadu is largely attributed to the mysterious death of the strong-woman Dr. J. Jayalalitha. The resentment on Sasikala transformed into anger and hatred for her – due to her deciding to hide certain critical information relating to Jayalalitha’s health and subsequent treatment at Apollo.


The Social Media ‘Meme’ Factor

There were memes being circulated on the internet, with few even directly accusing Sasikala of negligence which resulted in Jaya’s death. This incident had created a wide spread discontentment and it reflected badly when Sasikala attempted to take control of the party.

As always, it was decided by the de-facto leadership of Sasikala, that O.Paneerselvam would be installed as the Chief Minister until the public anger settles. However, the opposition party and certain elements (including religious minority institutions and separatist sympathizers) in Tamilnadu had taken full advantage of the public anger. They made sure the emotions of public are diverted against the BJP’s central leadership. This was done through tireless campaigns in Tamil Media / Social Media. By playing with the emotions of people with the rampant and indiscriminate usage of the word “Farmer”, these elements are successfully able to gain control of the emotions of people. This is despite BJP having implemented several good schemes supportive of Farming and Farmers.

Most Tamil youth blindly believe in memes that were in circulation. The DMK / ADMK too are victims of this hate campaigns. Usually the hate campaigners bat for Seeman’s NTK or the AAP. AAP IT cell, in collusion with minority institutions, has extensively created hate campaigns against the central leadership. These meme creators are hyper-active in Tamilnadu exploiting the emotions of public for their own religious / political gains.

However, the situation is slowly changing with BJP gaining back its lost supporters. The BJP’s state unit which was in hibernation mode, had recently made significant attempts at educating the people of the truth and the result is overall positive. Though BJP had lost a significant support base due to such false memes, it has now become an object of sympathy and this factor can translate to electoral gains in the RK Nagar elections.


The growing resentment on State Leadership:

Due to the continued anger on Sasikala’s refusal to communicate clearly on the cause and treatment of Jayalalitha, her entry into politics remained chaotic. And as the last nail in the coffin, the Supreme Court judgement upheld Sasikala to be a criminal in the long running Wealth case – causing her to be lodged in Bangalore Prison. As a result she is disqualified for the next six years from contesting any elections.

Unexpectedly, O.Paneerselvam accused Sasikala of “forcing” him to sign his resignation and insisted on him continuing as the CM. In the tug of war between O.Paneerselvam and Sasikala faction, Sasikala’s faction were able to prove their majority and it was decided at the prison that E.Palaniswamy would be Sasikala’s choice of Chief Minsiter. E.Palaniswamy was invited by the governor to form government.

All these incidents caused a huge deficit of trust in the minds of people. The support base of AIADMK had virtually shrunk. Election Commission had barred both Paneerselvam and Sasikala factions not to contest in RK Nagar elections using the famous “Two Leaves” symbol. Given this, it is very difficult for AIADMK to gain any significant support base.

Rampant distribution of money, especially by people claiming to be from ADMK – has caused a huge distrust in the minds of people. Media covers the cash distribution and publicly broadcasts it. It is also expected that parties like BJP (which has less people support comparatively) may make use of these clippings to submit their plea to the Election Commissioner to postpone the elections. That would give parties like BJP some more time to prepare itself on the ground.


Naam Tamizhar Katchi, Deepa and the Independents:

Most Tamizhs view Seeman as a hypocrite and hence his electoral win may be distant. Few may rally behind him, but those with genuine interest in Tamil language and culture will not support Seeman. He has stroked separatist sentiments in Tamilnadu and that has appealed a few “rebellious” youths. But it may not translate to electoral gain. With age and maturity, these “rebellious” youth may stop supporting Seeman.

Several independents are in the fray and together with Deepa and Seeman, this may cause diversion of votes from DMK (may tend to support Seeman) or from the ADMK (may tend to support independents / Deepa / BJP / OPS).

Any diversion of votes from DMK / ADMK will obviously help the BJP.


The Verdict:

Considering the fact that there has been rampant cases of money involvement and also considering that there is no emergence of clear victor in a multi-faceted election, it will not be a surprise if RK Nagar elections are postponed to June / July of 2017. Should income tax department conducts raids on the premises of key DMK / ADMK leaders (as being alleged), the elections could be delayed further.

If the elections proceed as scheduled, DMK are presently the favorites. However, the “Anti-Hindu” stance of DMK and its association with massive 2G corruption may prevent it from getting a majority. It is an interesting election and BJP definitely stands to gain when compared to the last elections in the state (2016 State Elections).

This election result would be a litmus test to the BJP and we are sure BJP will perform better than before. There is going to be heavy scrutiny by media and fringe elements. There are going to be social media campaigns directed at discrediting the party. This vote gain in BJP could only be credited to the central leadership. The ineffectiveness of Tamil Nadu BJP unit is no secret. If lotus has to bloom in Tamilnadu, the Tamilnadu BJP unit has to be re-energized.