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Can BJP Win These 3 Seats In Tamil Nadu?

March 28, 2024 16:29 IST
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In a state that usually plumbs for a Dravidian major, three candidates have a chance of delivering for the BJP, observes A Ganesh Nadar.

IMAGE: Narendra Modi goes on a roadshow in Coimbatore, March 19, 2024. Photograph: Kind courtesy K Annamalai/X

The Bharatiya Janata Party has taken on a very bold decision to contest without an alliance with either of the two Dravidian majors in Tamil Nadu, but will this pay off remains the question.

Anybody winning on Narendra Modi magic in Tamil Nadu is out of the question, and out of the real world.

If they have to win, it has to be on their own steam and definitely not with the help of the Pattali Makkal Katchi, which has very limited votes outside the core Vanniyar belt in Northern Tamil Nadu, and there too not enough to win a single seat.

There are three BJP candidates who have a chance of delivering: Pon Radhakrishnan from Kanyakumari; Nainar Nagendran, now a BJP MLA from Tirunelveli, and Radikaa Sarathkumar from Virudhunagar.

Pon Radhakrishnan is a former Tamil Nadu BJP president and has been MP twice. He has also held various ministerial portfolios at the Centre.

When he was a minister he tried to bring a port to Kanyakumari which was opposed by environmentalists and fishermen and he had to back off.

Kanyakumari constituency is unique in Tamil Nadu. It is the only one where the majority and minority religions are equal in number.

Muslims and Christians equal the number of Hindus here, so communal polarisation is a definite possibility.

There are a large number of Nadar voters, an upwardly mobile business community.

The Nadar vote bank will be equally divided as both Radhakrishnan and his Congress opponent Vijay Vasanth are from the community.

Vijay Vasanth is among the richest candidates in Tamil Nadu, according to his election affidavit.

Vijay Vasanth runs Vasanth and Co, a huge chain of shops selling household appliances in Tamil Nadu.

Of the three Congress MLAs from Kanyakumari, one has since defected to the BJP.

Pon Radhakrishnan has one BJP MLA to help him. What favours him is that he will definitely be a minister if he wins and the NDA forms a government, and the other factor favouring him is the consolidation of Hindu voters as the minority voters will definitely vote for the Congress.

Nainar Nagendran is a former AIADMK minister and he has won the Tirunelveli assembly seat twice as a member of the AIADMK and once as a BJP candidate, when it was an ally of the AIADMK.

He is a very rich hotelier with many units around the state.

The one thing that goes against him is a hostile state government and therefore a hostile police force that will be watching him like a hawk for the slightest transgression.

The AIADMK is also in the fray here.

The DMK-led front has given this seat to the Congress, but it is Nainar Nagendran who the hot money is backing.

Actor R Sarath Kumar recently merged his party, the All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi, which he launched in 2007, with the BJP.

Sarath Kumar is a successful film star in the Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam industries, and in a state never short of honorifics he goes by the title of 'Supreme Star'.

He has been an MLA and also a Rajya Sabha MP. Now his wife Radikaa Sarathkumar -- the couple spells their names differently as per their social media accounts -- has been allotted Virudhunagar by the BJP -- the stronghold of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam founder 'Captain' Vijayakanth, whose son Vijaya Prabhakaran is in the fray to reclaim his late father's political legacy.

Radikaa is known as the Ekta Kapoor of Tamil television as she has several successful soaps to her credit running for years on the SUN TV network.

Unlike Ekta, however, she also acts in her own serials. She is a very successful Tamil actress and started acting at a very young age, debuting in Director Bharati Raja's Kizhakkae Pogum Rayil.

She is the the daughter of the thespian M R Radha (infamous for shooting M G Ramachandran in the neck, which the movie superstar and later Tamil Nadu chief minister survived).

All Sarath Kumar, a Nadar, has to do to make sure his wife wins is to convince the community in Virudhunagar and Sivakasi to vote for his wife, instead of the Congress that they usually support.

Now whether caste is more powerful than tradition, we will just have to wait and see.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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