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Dominated by Dravidian politics, will Tamil Nadu accept Annamalai as new strike force?

By NS Venkataraman* 

The view appears to have gone strong in some circles that 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 become a “strike force” in Tamil Nadu politics. Indeed, many feel, he may outshine many experienced politicians in Tamil Nadu, including those in the opposition and the Tamil Nadu BJP.
Annamalai has entered politics when some sections in the state seem to have become tired of Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu, which is ruling the state for 60 years now, marked by controversies, including high level corruption, increasing number of people, including children, getting addicted to liquor, and caste based politics. People have been voting for one Dravidian party or the other, since they have no other alternate party to bank upon.
Poor people have been voting for any one of the Dravidian parties based on what have been dubbed as freebies, loud promises and efforts to lure voters in every possible way at the time of elections. The view has gone strong: gone are the days when great political stalwarts such as Kamaraj, who exhibited very high personal and political standards, ruled the state competently. Youth in the state often wonder whether such high political scruples would be possible for any politician today, Annamalai included.

Unique attributes?

Annamalai's supporters claim he has some unique attributes, which is not to be seen in any other politician in Tamil Nadu. He is well educated with an engineering degree and management qualification from a reputed institution. He entered the all-India cadre of IPS by passing competitive exam and served as a senior police officer in Karnataka with an impeccable record.
He speaks knowledgeably not only on politics but on variety of other such as administrative ethos, philosophy and history. Indeed, his critical observations convince, as he tries to back them up with informative data. He also uses strong language against corruption. In such conditions, may appear keen to know what Annamalai thinks about different issues.
However, he has major constraints: Both print and visual media in the state appear to be soft and uncritical towards ruling party for whatever reasons. He has therefore a problem in reaching his message to the public. Hence, he is heavily dependent on social media.
In every likelihood, the politicians belonging to the ruling party and allies will not leave any stone unturned to ensure that Annamalai does not gain Annamalai gain popularity. Allegations would be made to spoil his image. It remains to be seen how he faces this challenge.
Also, Annamalai would have to face similar challenges from opposite parties and from within the BJP -- those who have tried to hold the party's banner high so far in Tamil Nadu.

At cross roads

Indeed, Annamalai at cross roads. He may be gaining popularity, but it is too early to guess whether such popularity would be sustained and converted into votes. People may take a close look at his speeches and programmes, but will he continue to keep up with high standards in a consistent manner?
There is apprehension among his supporters that Annamalai would fall apart due to the high pressure campaign against him that is bound to be launched by the ruling as well as opposite party leaders. Would people stand by him in what he considers is his unbending fighter against corruption and negative politics?
Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai



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