BRS and AIADMK: Lok Sabha polls wash out two regional parties with hoary past; how did it happen?

AIADMK shaped the destiny of Tamil Nadu under MGR and then under his successor and former CM Jayalalithaa from 1989 to 2016.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 06, 2024 | 6:00 PMUpdatedJun 06, 2024 | 10:29 PM

Lok Sabha elections for BRS and AIADMK

BRS and AIADMK – two regional parties that strode the political firmament in Telangana and Tamil Nadu respectively like a colossus – are now standing small and tonally washed out, with no representation in the Lok Sabha.

The two parties faced an ignominious defeat in the elections likes of which they had never seen before.

The BRS, which was borne out of the Telangana movement and represented its soul, came a cropper in the Lok Sabha polls.

It not only lost the election but forfeited security deposits in eight seats. It could emerge as runners-up only in two Lok Sabha constituencies – Medak and Mahabubabad.

Related: Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu: As INDIA bloc registers 100% strike rate, a look at how alliances fared

Tracing BRS since its formation

The BRS, since its formation in 2001, had never drawn a blank in any Lok Sabah election till now. In 2004, it won 5 seats and won 11 and nine seats in 2014 and 2019 respectively.

After the formation of Telangana state in 2014, the party had no looking back. It won the 2014 election, riding on the crest of the popularity wave in the wake of attaining success in forcing the centre to cede Telangana state, and again in 2018 (the BRS went for early elections) when it came to power for the sconed time on the trot.

BRS supremo K Chandrashekar Rao became the unquestioned leader and ruled the state and kept the party under a tight leash, giving no scope even for a murmur or a whisper of dissidence.

As the BRS image began improving, KCR even looked beyond the borders of Telangana and began entertaining the first stirrings of hope that he could even become the Prime Minister if he played his cards well. But unknowingly, he tempted the providence too much, making forays into the neighbouring states.

He changed the name of the party to BRS from TRS to impart a national appeal. However, he did not realize that the substratum on which he was standing was shaking as Assembly elections began approaching in 2023.

The slide of his fortunes that began in the Assembly polls, which catapulted the Congress to power, continued in the Lok Sabha elections in 2024 with the party losing in all 17 Lok Sabah seats in the state. Party working president KT Rama Rao, commenting on the party’s disaster, said it pained him but that he had confidence that it would rise from ashes like Phoenix. But it is a long way to go.

Related: Jaya Jayahe Telangana: Chequered existence, unsettled status

What went wrong for AIADMK

In Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK was a major force since its formation by matinee idol MG Ramachandran on 17 October 1972. Initially called the ADMK, the party wielded influence in the state as well as in the Union Territory of Puducherry for several decades.

MGR founded the party after being expelled from DMK by former Chief Minister Karunanidhi. Since then much water has flowed in Kaveri.

The party, which had shaped the destiny of the state under MGR and then under his successor and former CM Jayalalithaa from 1989 to 2016, now stands at a crossroads, riven with factionalism.

The performance of the party in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, led by former CM Edappadi K Palaniswamy, was a disaster. It could not win even a single seat. Except thrice – 1996, 2004 and now – the party was never without representation in the Lok Sabha.

The party wilted under the relentless pounding of the DMK-led Alliance in the 2024 elections. The result, the 18th Lok Sabha has no AIADMK member. It contested 32 of the 39 seats in the state while its poll partner Puthiya Tamilagam and Social Democratic Party of India contested for one each on the AIADMK symbol while DMDK contested five seats.

The total rout of the AIADMK in the Lok Sabha polls has cast a long shadow on the political future of its general secretary Palaniswamy as dissidence against his leadership is likely to increase.

In 2019, AIADMK managed to win Theni. AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam’s son Ravindranath captured the seat. For the 2024 election, AIADMK severed its ties with the BJP and the PMK.

The party created a history of sorts in 2014, when it won 37 seats, the maximum, under former CM late J Jayalalithaa’s leadership. The second-highest tally was 18 in 1998 and 1977, under MGR’s leadership.

However, it has lost its lone seat Theni in the current Lok Sabha elections. The AIADMK secured more than 88.4 lakh votes in 34 constituencies. The only silver lining to other dismal shows of the party was that it had ended up as runners-up in 24 constituencies, kindling hopes that the party has not run its full course yet. The party activists believe that there is still some steam left to build on it by the time the next elections arrive.

The AIADMK workers feel that, under the exacting circumstance that it had fought the elections in 2024, the performance was not all that bad when compared to 2019. Though it had won one seat then – Theni – it was because the BJP and PMK were with the AIADMK.

Saner counsels are advocating the reunification of the two factions of the AIADMK, the other being led by Panneerselvam. How this amalgamation would work, no one knows, as Palaniswamy is not ready to let go of his post as general secretary of the party. If the two groups come together, it may help the party. But will the twain meet?

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