Annamalai, Tamilisai in BJP Lok Sabha candidate list for Tamil Nadu

After losing its primary ally in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK, the BJP has signed on several smaller parties as allies to increase its vote share.

BySouth First Desk

Published Mar 21, 2024 | 7:53 PM Updated Mar 21, 2024 | 8:18 PM

Annamalai welcomes Tamilisai to the BJP.

Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency in Tamil Nadu is set to be a prestige battle between BJP and its former ally AIADMK with the saffron party fielding K Annamalai as candidate.

The BJP on Thursday, 21 March, declared its third list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections 2024, naming nine nominees from Tamil Nadu.

Most prominent among them are BJP party’s Tamil Nadu unit chief K Annamalai and former Telangana Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan.

Tamilisai resigned as the Governor of Telangana earlier this week and re-joined the BJP with aspirations for a Lok Sabha election ticket.

Also Read: Will do whatever party tells him, says Tamil Nadu BJP chief Annamalai

The list

The candidates in the BJP’s third list are:

  • Chennai South: Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan
  • Chennai Central: Vinoj P Selvam
  • Vellore: Dr AC Shanmugam
  • Krishnagiri: C Narasimhan
  • Nilgiris (SC): Dr L Murugan
  • Coimbatore: K Annamalai
  • Perambalur: TR Paarivendhar
  • Tirunelveli Nainar Nagendran
  • Kanniyakumari: Pon Radhakrishnan

While BJP initially declared Nainar Nagendran as candidate for Thoothukkudi Lok Sabha constituency, it quickly made changes. In a “corrected” version that BJP released later, it said Nainar would contest from Tirunelveli.

Also Read: BJP seat-sharing deal in Tamil Nadu gives PMK 10 seats

BJP and its candidates

Keen on making an impression with increased vote share, the BJP has chosen to field all its big guns in Tamil Nadu.

The Lok Sabha elections are crucial for the BJP, which lost a key Tamil Nadu ally — the AIADMK — months ago. The saffron party has since then joined hands with several smaller parties.

Coimbatore, where K Annamalai is contesting from, is seen as a key seat for the BJP given its communally sensitive nature. Demography, geography, and past instances of terror attacks have made Coimbatore fertile grounds for the BJP’s ideological push of majoritarian Hindutva.

The ruling DMK, however, will hope for anti-incumbency vote split between BJP and AIADMK to turn beneficial for its candidate.

The party is banking on grouse against the DMK, voters who don’t subscribe to Dravidian ideology, the groundwork laid by Annamalai through his recent statewide Padayatra, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to garner votes.

Several of the BJP leaders named in the list have a history of sparking controversies with their remarks and actions.

Tamilisai has had a lengthy history of butting heads with the BRS government in Telangana.

Annamalai has also had a controversy-pockmarked stint as the chief of the Tamil Nadu BJP, where he has taken on not only political rivals and their ideologies but also journalists.

Youth leader Vinoj P Selvam was, among other things, booked in 2022 for a post on Twitter that complainants said was aimed at inciting communal tensions.

Dr AC Shanmugam was in the eye of the storm in 2019 when the college he ran controversially conferred a doctorate to AIADMK leader and then chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami.

Shanmugam back then headed the New Justice Party, which he had founded. The party was an alliance partner of the AIADMK.