'2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections Will Be A Tipping Point For The BJP': K Annamalai
Why Tamil Nadu BJP vice-president K Annamalai thinks that the party would hit double digit vote share this time and would be in pole position in 2026.
K Annamalai, a 2011 batch IPS officer, who resigned from service to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in August 2020, is a ‘super catch’ for the Tamil Nadu unit of the party.
The young, fiery speaker, who has been designated as party vice-president, is making a whirlwind tour of the state, attracting youth and women in large numbers.
An engineering graduate with an MBA from IIM-Lucknow, he later joined civil services as his desire was to “remain connected with people.”
Having chosen Karnataka as his parent state, he served in Udupi and Chikkamagaluru districts, before moving to Bengaluru city.
A down-to-earth officer who easily mingled with people wherever he went, he earned the moniker ‘Singham Anna’ for his unconventional style of policing.
After being in service for nine years, he quit the IPS early last year as he “always yearned to give something back to society” and joined BJP as, he says, “it is the only party that inspires me.”
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: What made you get into politics? You had just got into a profession where you had a bright future ahead of you.
A: Many things have influenced my thinking. I was the first one in my village to get a professional education. I came through a hard route, and so, a lot of things have shaped the initial part of my life. I enjoyed nine years of a fantastic profession. But, I got into politics as it was my long-term goal to serve people.
Q: Why BJP? It may take 20 years for the party in Tamil Nadu to have any kind of power to make a difference in people’s lives.
A: The coming election will be some sort of a tipping point. I foresee some Dravidian parties dying and new forces emerging…As far as BJP is concerned, I’m confident that we will make some inroads this time and in 2026, BJP will be a ruling party in Tamil Nadu. I can already feel it on the ground.
Q: But even as late as 2019, BJP got about 2 per cent of votes in the Lok Sabha elections. So, unless you are able to get 20 per cent plus votes, you will not be a significant player. How are you expecting to make such a big jump?
A: This time, we will be in double digits in terms of the voting percentage. I’m confident of this because the voters are shifting away from the Dravidian parties. Modi wave is there. All the traction is with the women. They are connecting with Modi in a big way. With the demise of Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, there is a huge vacuum at the top which Modi will be able to fill. BJP is no longer seen as the Hindi, Hindu, Hindustani party, especially by the youth.
Q: Don’t you think M K Stalin stands a good chance of winning this election as he has been waiting in the wings for long and people may want to give him a chance. After all, the DMK swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.…
A: I don’t think so. The reason is simple. The last Lok Sabha election was an abnormal one. It was orchestrated by a team in DMK which brought paid consultants. They ran a ‘GoBackModi’ narrative for 6-7 months on the television. That was the reason for the sweep. Now, the Tamil people have understood that they made a mistake. They have no representation in the Central cabinet. Still, over the last two years, the Centre has pumped in about Rs 40,000 crore worth of projects into Tamil Nadu and the people have recognised that.
Q: If there was a negative campaign against Modi in 2019, the same may continue even now. The media is still controlled by the Dravidian parties.
A: We have launched a massive campaign on social media. People no longer watch news. The traditional news consumption has drastically fallen in the last one year thanks to YouTube, Jio and others.
Now that most things happen inside the cell phone, our responses have become quick and effective.
For instance, we had a massive campaign to make people of Tamil Nadu understand that the new Education Policy lays a lot of emphasis on development of regional languages and it is not all about imposition of Hindi.
When Stalin started ‘Hindi Teriyadu Poda’ (‘I don’t know Hindi, get lost’ campaign) we launched a massive counter narrative. After two days, they gave up the negative propaganda. We have become smarter with our campaign this time.
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