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Challenges and Opportunities for Annamalai in Tamil Nadu Politics

While Annamalai is gaining popularity, it is too early to guess whether such popularity would be sustained and converted into votes for him.

3 mins read
Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai. [Photo: PTI file]

Just after a period of less than 24 months of entering Tamil Nadu politics and becoming the President of Tamil Nadu BJP and with no prior political experience, Annamalai has certainly become a “strike force” in Tamil Nadu politics today.

A number of political researchers and discerning observers wonder as to what could be the reason for Annamalai’s stormy entry into Tamil Nadu politics and his nearly outshining so many other experienced politicians in Tamil Nadu including those in Tamil Nadu BJP itself.

A careful study clearly indicates that there are reasons for this.

Entry into politics at the right time:

Annamalai has entered Tamil Nadu politics at the right time when the common people in the state have almost become tired of Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu for around sixty years now, which have been marked by several negatives including a high level of corruption, an increasing number of people including children getting addicted to liquor and counter-productive and caste-based politics and unprincipled politicians.

People have been voting for one dravidian party or the other so far since they had no other alternate party with good standards. Poor people have been voting for anyone of the Dravidian party based on the freebies given, loud promises made and distribution of cash to the poor voters at the time of elections. Several poor people know very well that it is wrong to take cash for voting but “justify” their accepting cash, stating that by accepting cash they would be only squeezing out the money swindled by the politicians and thus “would make such politicians poor”.

The senior citizens who have seen great political stalwarts in Tamil Nadu such as Kamaraj and Kakkan, who exhibited very high personal and political standards and ruled the state competently, crave whether such politicians of high standards would enter Tamil Nadu politics anytime in future.

Youth in the state who have been told about the exemplary standards of Kakkan and Kamaraj find it difficult to believe that such great politicians could have lived in the state at all. They often wonder whether such high political scruples would be possible for any politician.

At a time like the present one, when people are looking for political leader of high standards, Annamalai has entered Tamil Nadu politics, raising hope that Annamalai could take the political standard in the state to high level, matching the standards of Kamaraj and Kakkan.

Unique attributes:

There are some unique attributes in Annamalai, which has not been seen in any other politician in Tamil Nadu. He is well educated with an engineering degree and management qualification from a reputed institution, entered the India cadre of IPS bypassing the competitive exam and served as a senior police officer in Karnataka with an impeccable record.

He speaks knowledgeably not only on politics but a variety of other subjects such as administrative ethos, philosophy, history and so on with the capability to speak in the Tamil language that could be readily understood by anyone.

What is more, is his courage of conviction and confidence to make critical observations with informative data and analysis. He uses strong language against corruption, which has caught the imagination of the common man.

In such conditions, everyone is keen to know what Annamalai thinks about any matter and people flock to his meetings in good numbers.

Opportunity:

There is a vacuum in political leadership in Tamil Nadu, as the ministers and politicians are fast losing their credibility and the governance appears to be virtually a family affair. This scenario gives an opportunity for Annamalai to continue his crusade

Constraint:

Both print and visual media in the state appear to be soft and uncritical towards the ruling party for whatever reasons. In such circumstances, Annamalai has a problem in reaching his message to the people through print and visual media. In such circumstances, he is heavily dependent on social media to publicise his views.

Of course, social media has two sides and there is also negative publicity on social media for Annamalai.

Challenge:

Obviously, the politicians belonging to the ruling party and allies are concerned about Annamalai gaining popularity and in the coming days, it is likely that many false allegations would be made against Annamalai to spoil his image. The ruling party is likely to leave no stone unturned in this regard.

It remains to be seen how Annamalai would face this challenge, which would come not only from opposition parties but also from within the BJP itself by those who fall to the “offers” from the ruling party men.

Annamalai at the crossroads:

While Annamalai is gaining popularity, it is too early to guess whether such popularity would be sustained and converted into votes for him.

While popularity means that people are taking a close look at Annamalai’s speech and programmes, he has to maintain high standards in a consistent manner, so that people would not change their views.

Perhaps, Annamalai may pass the test which could happen, if he has the quality in him and exhibit it to the people.

Today, in Tamil Nadu politics, Annamalai is at a crossroads.

Tamil Nadu would be a loser, if Annamalai would fall apart due to the high-pressure campaign against him that is bound to be launched by the opposite parties and vested interests.

People would stand by Annamalai if he would continue to show that he is an unbending fighter against corruption and negative politics.

While Annamalai is gaining popularity, it is too early to guess whether such popularity would be sustained and converted into votes for him.

N.S.Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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