Tamil Nadu Local Body Polls: Why BJP Is Celebrating More Than Others; And Why Its Victory Is Even More Special In Town Of Eraniel

by Aravindan Neelakandan - Feb 25, 2022 03:31 PM +05:30 IST
Tamil Nadu Local Body Polls: Why BJP Is Celebrating More Than Others; And Why Its Victory Is Even More Special In Town Of EranielA BJP public meeting in Tamil Nadu (Twitter)
Snapshot
  • If today the BJP has reason to celebrate in Tamil Nadu, it is because of the dynamic leadership that Annamalai provides.

In the local body elections of 2022 in Tamil Nadu, the DMK has made a sweep. But the party that is really rejoicing is the BJP. In the recent past, this is the first time one sees a great enthusiasm among the Tamil Nadu BJP cadre.

Many political observers have noted that though in terms of absolute numbers the BJP's performance does not seem important - given the ruthless victory of the DMK- the real surprise is that the BJP has been able to win seats across the state.

The party which went solo, coming out of the AIADMK alliance for the local body elections, won 22 corporation seats, 56 municipality seats and 230 town panchayat seats.

One should remember that the BJP contested only 45 percent of the 1,374 corporation seats, 3843 municipality seats and 7621 town panchayat seats.

For the first time the percentage of votes that the BJP garnered has exceeded 5 percent mark.

The decision by Annamalai to go solo while not attacking the AIADMK like most parties do when they walk out of an alliance has created both respect for him across the political parties and a strong enthusiasm for the cadre. In fact, Annamalai has been able to stir enthusiasm not only with the party cadre but also with the supporters and even among fence sitters.

Right when he took over, he had to face a scandal because of the systemic decay that has been eating the Tamil Nadu BJP for quite some time. He handled it with a maturity, straightforwardness and honesty that earned him a lot of respect.

In fact, even a small slip on his part would have damaged him forever. And anyone, even those twice his age, may have slipped in that situation. The only protection he had was his adherence to uncompromising honesty. Many BJP supporters felt a new beginning. But even they would not have been ready for the surprises that awaited them.

Tamil Nadu Local Body Polls: Why BJP Is Celebrating More Than Others; And Why Its Victory Is Even More Special In Town Of Eraniel

The press conferences of Annamalai became a phenomenon. Everyone knows that most media in Tamil Nadu - whether mainstream or social media outlets- are pro-DMK or at least viscerally anti-BJP.

Many interviews done with the BJP leaders, which are secured using personal friendships, are used to catch them off guard and project them negatively. Annamalai changed this. He was again sharp and straight forward. He openly told them, without showing anger that they are biased and implied many times that they do not deserve to be called journalists but should be called only propagandists.

From his opposition to government's alleged targeting of Hindu religious gatherings alone using the Covid-19 to his handling of the case of the girl's suicide in a convent hostel - he has shown such a determinism that the state government has blinked more than once - despite its brutal majority. It was not only the specifically Hindu issues which he championed. From his clear support to NEET examinations to bringing up the issue of the inferior quality of the materials given to people by the DMK government for Pongal, again he has taken up the space of the main opposition.

If today the BJP has reason to celebrate in Tamil Nadu, it is because of the dynamic leadership that Annamalai provides.

There are other factors also.

It is an open secret that the BJP got maximum number of its seats from Kanyakumari district. Here the BJP has reason for both rejoicing and introspection.

In 2021, the BJP won Nagercoil legislative constituency by securing 48.21 percent of the total polled votes (88,804 votes). Sri. M.R. Gandhi became the MLA. However, in less than a year the DMK has secured majority number of wards in Nagercoil. M.R. Gandhi has actually earned himself a good name by his presence during the floods and coordinating relief operations. The only reason for this could have been the consolidation of votes in a communal manner. Also the changes in the ward demarcations have created its own confusion. But all said and done, the wrestling of Nagercoil in the local bodies election is definitely a morale booster for the DMK.

Eraniel - Future of Tamil Nadu this way?
Eraniel - Future of Tamil Nadu this way?

Even by the standards of Kanyakumari district, the surprise has been the way the BJP swept the town panchayat of Eraniel town. Of the 15 wards in the town panchayat 12 have been won by the BJP. While many political observers try to attribute the democratic Hindu political consolidation against the expansionist communal forces in Kanyakumari district to the fundamentalist and harassing activities of proselytizing religions, a factor that often escapes such observers is the positive Hindu awareness with a basic sense of Hindu history and spirituality. The person who laid the foundations for that was Swami Madhurananda (1922-1999).

Swami Madhurananda (1922-1999)
Swami Madhurananda (1922-1999)

Born on April 14, 1922 (the second day of Thunthubi Tamil year) Eraniel was his native town. His pre-monastic name was Subbiah Pillai. At the age of 18, he met his spiritual Guru Swami Ambananda who had taken initiation from none other than Holy Mother Sarada Devi.

After graduation, Subbiah, who was given the spiritual name Madhurananda stayed with his Guru till the latter attained Samadhi. In 1951, Swami Madhurananda was in charge of the Ashram which was actually an excuse for a hut in a lonely place near the hillock that had a Murugan temple.

The spiritual grace and prowess of this unassuming simple sadhu has been attested by every one irrespective of religion, language and creed, who came in his proximity. Swami Madhurananda regarded taking Sanatana Dharma to the society as his sadhana.

Through his efforts, he brought into existence the Hindu Dharma Vidya Peetham. Every Sunday, even in the remotest corners of the district, children could go for the religious classes where they learnt about Hindu Dharma and its history of glory and sacrifice. When Swami Madhurananda attained Mahasamadhi in 1999, the Hindu Dharma Vidya Peetham had become a banyan-like movement in the district.

If in Kanyakumari district there is sustained Hindu awareness and consolidation, irrespective of institutional growth, stagnation and upsurge, it is because of Swami Madhurananda.

If the striking victory of the BJP at Eraniel represents a new dawn for Tamil Nadu politics, then it could not have come in a better year - the year of the centenary celebrations of this spiritual Mahatma of Kanyakumari district who had a special devotion in his heart for Thiruvannamalai.

Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.

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