Four Theories Why Annamalai Lost In Coimbatore

S Rajesh

Jun 05, 2024, 12:06 PM | Updated Jun 06, 2024, 08:45 PM IST

What are the reasons for Annamalai's loss in Coimbatore?
What are the reasons for Annamalai's loss in Coimbatore?

The Coimbatore seat was keenly watched by political observers this time because of the candidature of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tamil Nadu state president, K Annamalai.

Though contesting without an alliance with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), people expected that he could win the seat due to the increased popularity of his party in the state and his personal charisma.

However, Annamalai lost the seat by a margin of over 1 lakh votes. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) candidate, Ganapathy Rajkumar won the seat. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's (AIADMK) Singai G Ramachandran finished third.

Here are four theories or possible reasons for Annamalai’s loss—

AIADMK and DMK had a tacit understanding, otherwise, such a performance by the AIADMK candidate was not expected

As mentioned before, AIADMK’s Ramachandran finished third. While his finishing third in an electoral contest is well within the realm of possibility, what has surprised people is that he secured just 17.23 per cent of the votes in a seat that is considered to be one of the party’s strongholds.

Even the Western Tamil Nadu region, within which Coimbatore is located, has been dominated by the AIADMK.

Any observer of Tamil vernacular media, would be able to recall how the AIADMK went to town saying that Annamalai would not be able to win Coimbatore because it is S P Velumani’s (a local AIADMK MLA and party strongman) fortress and thus the low vote share has created a doubt in people’s minds as to whether the two Dravidian parties, i.e., the AIADMK and the DMK had a tacit understanding in order to defeat Annamalai.

Complete consolidation of minorities behind the DMK; AIADMK’s minority appeasement did not work

The minority communities, majorly Muslims and Christians, appear to have totally consolidated behind the DMK. The AIADMK had hoped to get a part of the minority vote after breaking the alliance with the BJP. 

It demanded the release of Muslim prisoners serving long sentences (which included those convicted for their role in the 1998 Coimbatore blasts), and Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) even said that the party would protect minorities like the ‘eyelid protects the eye’ but all of that does not seem to have helped the AIADMK.

This was not completely unexpected though. BJP state secretary S G Suryah, who spoke with this author about the Coimbatore constituency before the election, had stated that the Muslim communities could do tactical voting if they wanted to defeat Annamalai.

Rural areas have proved to be the party’s Achilles heel

For most of the day, Annamalai was trailing behind the DMK candidate Rajkumar by around 30000-50000 votes. The margin however started increasing when counting of votes from assembly segments like Sulur and Kavundampalayam, (which have a number of rural and semi-urban areas) began. 

Again this was something that was considered as one of the challenges before the elections. A top BJP leader who did not wish to be named had then said that while the 2019 anti-Modi wave had subsided in rural areas, they had staunch AIADMK and DMK supporters. The AIADMK, he had said had good second and third rung leaders in those areas, making it tough for the BJP.

Annamalai did not have sufficient time to campaign

Annamalai’s candidature was announced a little less than a month before the elections. While the same could be said for many other candidates, he was also required to travel all over the state to campaign for others in the party and the NDA alliance, thus reducing the time he could give for Coimbatore. Party supporters say that having more time could have helped Annamalai.

S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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