BJP, Dravidian giants pull out all stops as battleground Tamil Nadu braces to vote

Chennai: Tamil Nadu was marked by fierce campaigns and acrimonious debates, and a never-before-seen kind of spirited fight put up by the BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to gain a foothold in the Dravidian land in 2024 was a striking feature.

Elections to 39 Lok Sabha seats in the state will be held on Friday and the fate of 950 candidates will be decided by about 6.23 crore voters who are set to exercise their franchise in nearly 68,000 polling stations.

The election mood set in pretty early in the state, in January, with the commencement of repeated visits by Modi, who combined development and honour for Tamil language and culture as his main election plank, which also had the key element of denouncing DMK-Congress over alleged corruption and ‘parivarvad’ politics. The state witnessed intense campaigning for nearly a month, starting in March.

Coimbatore, the hub of western Tamil Nadu, is the most keenlly watched constituency  in the state and the BJP’s K Annamalai is slogging to emerge victorious, battling against Dravidian giants the DMK and AIADMK.

He also faces a challenge from the Tamil nationalist Naam Tamilar Katchi in the four-way contest with anti-DMK-Congress votes split into three.

The lone joint rally of Congress’ Rahul Gandhi and DMK President MK Stalin in Coimbatore is a pointer to the focus on the constituency.

Arguably, the 2024 LS polls is the only one in recent history in which the BJP set the tone for campaign discourse by mounting attacks rather than being in defence by coming up with disclosures on the Katchatheevu issue,  besides vehemently taking up other matters.

The Katchatheevu issue led to a slanging match between the Saffron party, led by a fierce Annamalai and the DMK-Congress combine.

While the BJP alleged betrayal by the DMK-Congress, the Dravidian and grand old partyposed questions on “Chinese incursions.”

Modi’s campaign also saw the Katchatheevu issue gain prominence to a great degree and he sought to pin down the DMK-Congress, saying fishermen now pay the price for their betrayal.