BJP relies on caste and religious polarization in candidates list for TN

Updated by admin on Friday, April 17, 2020 08:24 PM IST

Chennai: The BJP candidates list for Tamil Nadu has revealed that the party has relied more on caste and religious polarization to try and improve its electoral prospects in the State.

The party’s attempt to woo the Nadar community in the southernmost pockets of the State Is reflected in the choice of Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan and state unit president Tamizhisai Sounderarajan for the Kanyakumari and Thoothukudi constituencies. Both of them hail from the Nadar community. The two constituencies also have a large share of Nadars in the electorate. The Nadars are a prominent and influential community in southern Tamil Nadu, owning several educational institutions and business establishments.

In the past few years, the BJP has also tried to polarize the Kanyakumari, Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram  and Sivaganga constituencies, in particular, with the Nadar and Hindutva planks.
The plan actually goes back several years ago when the party made a big issue of Vivekanandar Rock Memorial versus fishermen issue nearly four decades ago. The underlying strategy was to polarize the voters of Kanyakumari and adjoining districts on religious lines as most of the fishermen, who felt that the coming up of the Memorial using ferries for transportation would hit the fishing industry hard, were Christians.  Riots between Christians and Hindus were fanned at Mandaikaadu, Agastheeswaram and adjoining places. In later years, the BJP profited by these polarization attacks, with an odd victory in the Assembly elections, and partially taking over the AIADMK vote-bank in the district, pushing the regional party to third or fourth place in the Kanyakumari district.

Pon Radhakrishnan has won some and lost some in Kanyakumari but has managed a significant vote share even on his own.

Tamizhisai wanted the South Chennai or Thoothukudi seat but had to settle for the latter as the AIADMK was determined to give the South Chennai seat to the sitting MP, Dr J Jayvardhan, son of Tamil Nadu Minister D Jayakumar. She looks upon the Thoothukudi seat too favourably as it has a good chunk of Nadar voters.

A prominent leader of the AIADMK former minister Rajakannappan, has hit out at what he called the BJP’s attempt to saffronise the southern districts and to try and polarize the voters on religious lines. He blamed the AIADMK leadership for allowing this situation and by aiding it. The former minister quit the AIADMK and has decided to support the DMK-led front in the Lok Sabha elections. The same strategy has been tried in Sivaganga by BJP candidate H Raja, he pointed out. A similar and dangerous strategy was sought to be carried out in Ramanathapuram constituency too where he said the BJP was trying to whip up communal feelings against the seat being given by the DMK to a Muslim, Nawaz Ghani of the IUML who is contesting on the DMK’s Rising Sun symbol. Therefore it is, that the BJP has fielded Nainar Nagendran. Here too, caste polarization is also sought as he belongs to the Maravar community.

The BJP has fielded C P Radhakrishnan, former MP of this constituency, once again for the Coimbatore seat. The front banks heavily on the support of the Gounder community as wooed by the Chief Minister, Edappadi K Palaniswamy, who  hails from this sector.

By R. Rangaraj


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