While Dravidian parties favour ground connect, BJP counts on top brass

In contrast, the campaign vehicles of the BJP make fewer stops, relying more on speeches by top rung leaders.
A DMK candidate interacts with voters in Theni
A DMK candidate interacts with voters in TheniPhoto | Express

TIRUCHY: In the digital space, the alliances separately led by DMK, AIADMK and the BJP are locked in a heated battle to convince voters to elect their candidate. However, notable contrast emerges between the on-ground approach of the Dravidian majors and that of the BJP-led alliance.

Both the DMK and AIADMK are following a similar bottom-up approach in Tiruchy parliamentary constituency, emphasising local connect and flavour, while the BJP’s strategy is top-down, without a local vote target, primarily relying on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s achievements.

The Dravidian parties, both of which have set local vote targets, have almost similar organisational structure with local leaders playing pivotal roles when it comes to canvassing votes crisscrossing urban streets and rural villages. Their campaign vehicles ferrying candidates along with district secretaries and local functionaries stop at regular intervals to address people gathered there. In contrast, the campaign vehicles of the BJP make fewer stops, relying more on speeches by top rung leaders.

A recent campaign exemplified this contrast. On Wednesday, the campaign vehicle of MDMK candidate Durai Vaiko passed through bustling streets in Palakkarai area. ‘Palakkarai’ Govindan, a DMK worker, who sat next to the driver’s seat, captivated the crowd with historical anecdotes and personalised appeals. He mentioned the developmental scheme implemented by the DMK-led city council and even shouted out names of local DMK supporters.

BJP president J P Nadda’s campaigning for AMMK candidate P Senthilnathan in Tiruchy | Express
BJP president J P Nadda’s campaigning for AMMK candidate P Senthilnathan in Tiruchy | Express

“I have been part of many elections in the past two decades. I have read books, magazines since my teenage years to know about party’s history and I use all the information in my speeches,” said 55-year-old Govindan, who weaved in such snippets in his announcements.

Whenever pink buses crossed the campaign vehicle, he declared, “Amma, akka, please vote for the alliance that implemented ticket-free travel scheme for women.”

Similarly, hundreds of AIADMK workers, led by former ministers and local leaders, canvassed energetically for their candidate, P Karuppaiah, in several areas, even though the candidate was not present with them.

“I am responsible for the 6,000 votes in my ward. We have been instructed to get more votes from booths that come under my ward than the previous election. We are working hard towards that target,” said Deiva Manikandan, an AIADMK leader in Ward 16.

In contrast, the BJP’s grassroots footprint appears to be subdued due to lack of organisational base and is overshadowed by its reliance on state and national figures despite the fact that the NDA candidate is from AMMK, its local ally.

A notable event was BJP national president JP Nadda’s roadshow in Tiruchy, where party workers struggled to attract people to the 2km thoroughfare. A visibly upset Nadda concluded the roadshow with a three-line speech in Hindi.

“This is the first roadshow Tiruchy has ever seen. That too by a national leader of a party. People, impressed by our roadshow, are ready to vote for our alliance,” said Gowtham Nagarajan, a BJP functionary.

Advocate T Banumathi, a political observer, said, “I do not think these cinematic roadshows by the BJP are for the people of Tamil Nadu. They want to make the people in the northern states believe that they have entered even into Tamil Nadu and hence the 400+ target is possible. That’s why the voice-over during the live telecast of the roadshow was in Hindi. However, the BJP is nowhere close to the DMK and AIADMK in terms of reaching out to the people on the ground.”

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