The big fat “Annamalai Bubble” has been burst. How did he lose in Coimbatore?

K.Annamalai, the State President for BJP in Tamil Nadu, has mastered the art of positioning himself in the limelight by doing whichever means necessary which includes incessant lying and stoking religious sentiments. His loss in Coimbatore was celebrated with much fanfare throughout the state by supporters of various parties. Goats were slaughtered, mutton biriyani was served to the people, crackers were burst, social media was flooded with memes. All this was done because Annamalai lost in Coimbatore.

How did he do in Coimbatore?

Coimbatore is touted to be the bastion of the BJP in Tamil Nadu and it has been considered the most favorable constituency for any BJP candidate. Annamalai, who was reluctant to contest in the Lok Sabha elections initially, contested from the seat representing the BJP and flamboyantly claimed that the DMK would lose their deposit in Coimbatore. Many exit polls too predicted a win for the BJP and Annamalai in the Coimbatore constituency. However, DMK’s candidate Ganapathi Rajkumar won in Coimbatore with 5,68,200 votes and Annamalai managed to get only 4,50,132 votes: losing with a margin of 1.18 lakh votes. AIADMK, BJP’s former ally, got over 2.36 lakh votes.

Comparison to past performances:

In 2014, BJP contested in Coimbatore with almost a similar coalition and got 3,89,701 votes which is 33% of the votes polled. In 2024, although the number of votes increased by around 60 thousand votes, the percentage has remained the same at 33%. There has not been a significant increase in that regard given the fact that Coimbatore is a BJP stronghold and Annamalai was touted to have created, not ripples, but waves in Tamil Nadu’s politics and in Coimbatore specifically. Many claims are made about the 4.5 lakh votes that Annamalai has got but that number too is not a cause for celebration as BJP has had similar numbers in 1998 polls as well in Coimbatore constituency.

 Why Annamalai’s loss matters?

‘En Mann En Makkal’ yatra which was the brainchild of Annamalai was much hyped to be the turning point for BJP’s fortunes in the state. Many right-wing influencers and ideologues claimed that the BJP’s State President has emerged as a mass leader in the state and has the capacity to pull crowds and thereby votes for the party. His press conferences were often aggressive, which involved attacks not just against the opposition but against the allies and even the reporters as well. On separate instances, he also claimed that the party would win all the 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, would garner 25% vote share and also challenged that no Dravidian party would win any seat in the southern Tamil Nadu in addition to claiming his victory in Coimbatore.

Moreover, many stalwarts from the BJP were also brought back to contest this election to bolster the party’s performance and winnability. BJP’s candidates included a Governor, a Union Minister of State and an MLA who initially were thought to be not included in the candidates’ list. With extensive campaign of Prime Minister Modi and several photo-ops and gimmicks with ‘Sengol’, the hype was at an all time high in Tamil Nadu about the party’s performance in the state and Annamalai’s too. He was given the most airtime in the mainstream media, both in Tamil Nadu and at the national level as well and he had supposedly created a ‘war room’ for building up his persona in social media in addition to the much-feared mighty IT Wing of the BJP. All this were good enough to score a ‘naught.’

Relationship with AIADMK:

BJP’s alliance with the AIADMK broke down because of Annamalai. He personally was against the alliance and spoke against AIADMK and its leaders even when he was in alliance with the party. Being a junior partner to AIADMK in the alliance, it was AIADMK who wanted to be seen as the party fighting for the CM’s chair in the state. However, Annamalai claimed that the BJP would go after the Chief Ministership signalling the will to break off the alliance. After several incidents of squirmish between the parties, the alliance was called off by the AIADMK and the sole reason for the breakup was Annamalai.

As per the numbers, if the AIADMK-BJP alliance held together, they could have won around 13 seats in which 6 were contested by the BJP and 6 were contested by PMK and 1 by John Pandian. So, 13 seats which potentially could have slipped from the DMK alliance’s grip were sabotaged by Annamalai which is being severely criticized post the results.

 Performance of BJP as a party:

In 2014, BJP contested in 6 seats and got a vote share of 5.56% in Tamil Nadu with its own NDA alliance. In 2019, the number went down to 3.62% after having contested in 5 seats in the AIADMK alliance. In 2024, BJP has managed an vote share of little over 11% from contesting in 23 seats. This number would go down to single digit (9%) if we deduct the vote share of 4 alliance partners which contested in BJP’s symbol. There was a Modi wave in 2014 (even in 2019) which had not much impact in Tamil Nadu. But in 2024, an artificial Modi-Annamalai wave was created using the media and social media but even with all the hype that the party could muster, it did not manage to make any dent in the electoral outcome in the state.

Own goal:

Annamalai has scored an own goal of sorts by alienating its ally, AIADMK which resulted in a score of 40-0 in favour of the DMK alliance. With Modi and BJP’s election campaign turning extremely communal after the first phase of polling which covered Tamil Nadu and anti-Tamil campaigns in Odisha, the BJP too have scored an own goal as it was not well received in Tamil Nadu. With BJP losing the majority in the Lok Sabha and with the myth of Annamalai being burst; if the elections are held in Tamil Nadu today, it would take a miracle for the party to retain its 11% vote share it got this election.

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Ramasamy Jayaprakash

Ramasamy works as a Senior Sub-Editor at YouTurn and writes articles in Tamil and English. He also makes videos for YouTurn's Tamil & English YouTube channels.
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