Annamalai Kukuswami: BJP Chief of Tamil Nadu, BJP candidate from Coimbatore

Annamalai Kukuswami is contesting the lok sabha election from Coimbatore. He is a former civil servant turned politician and is the youngest person to become the BJP ‘s president in the Tamilnadu states unit. The State sends 39 members of Parliament and this decade, the MPs are from the AIADMK or DMK with the Congress and communists having a marginal presence. Pilling for 39 lok sabha seats was held in the first phase on 19 April. The BJP did not win a single seat from Tamil Nadu in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Now it is Annamali who is drawing attention.

The seat of Coimbatore is one of the country’s growth engine points. The people of Coimbatore are very rational, and logical, they look very long-term. India’s first finance minister came from Coimbatore. This time BJP will deliver not only in Coimbatore but also in Tamil Nadu. Irrespective of the noise around in Tamilnadu the bjp will emerge victorious, says Annamalai.

The election of 2024, is a very open field in Tamilnadu. The rest of India will see Tamilnadu accepting the humbleness and humility in politics and the people working at the grassroots not bothered by the sura of the money power and muscle power in Tamil Nadu. BJP is a very confident party, there is a difference between arrogance and confidence. It still maintains its roots and is not going to change its ethos. Modi has changed the pit from being a party worker, a campaigner to a chief minister to the prime minister and he remains to be the same person. He is very focused and down to the soil. The opposition is just trying to attack the level of the BJP instead of focusing on their performance, setting their house in order.

DMK has played a very interesting game by replacing communist candidates with themselves as it saw BJP is going to come hard on them. Because communists will never leave Coimbatore. For a long time, Coimbatore has had communist MLAs, for decades together. For the very first time, DMK has taken that seat back because it believes only by muscle power and money power they can take that seat away from anybody who wants it. This time DMK is brutally confident about its money power. They are coming to the battle only through money and power. There are some seats in Coimbatore which are marker seats which means if we are defeating somebody there we are not defeating a candidate, we are defeating an ecosystem. In Tamilnadu, if the political change had to happen you have to defeat the ecosystem. The candidates are the mere tools of the ecosystem and Coimbatore is one such seat. Coimbatore is also very complex seat as in a three-way battle it can go any which way. Because every party is strong there, every party has an assured vote base.

This time BJP is very confident because the developmental measures have been reached in the last ten years. Be it the industry, the beneficiaries of Coimbatore and so on it has reached the found. Moreover, the recent massive road shows of PM Modi have tampered with the emotions of the masses there. Modi has the skill for election management where to make sure the people come out to vote, meet people, connect with them, make sure our narrative is right, and sire the booths at the ground level is strong enough to meet all the voter’s votes for BJP. So Modi delivers, opens, and gives a sound boat to stand and fight. BJP in Tamil Nadu is in the learning stage, the leaders are coming in they are getting exposed, they are getting adapted, learning from their mistakes.  Everywhere Modi gives the party and the workers that opening push, be it West Bengal or Tamil Nadu. This time bjp in Tamilnadu is confident because, from the year’s long work and performance, the party has been able to build a strong team to capitalise on the charisma, vision, and energy of Narendra Modi.

The people in this election have changed to demand what they want the party to act on for them. So it is seen that they have accepted the leaders as one of them which is very important. Bjp as a party in Tamil Nadu has crossed the stage of just being treated well. Now the situation is to evaluate the party, which means it has been accepted as one of them, DMK and AIADMK. The people are going to evaluate the three parties with an honestly open mind. The evaluation stage is very important because the time of consideration has passed. When a party is evaluated by the people and comes to the voting, it garners its worth. This time in the elections, the candidates matter, the manifesto matters, narratives matter because BJP has come to the evaluation stage.

Generally, it is seen with the regional parties that they use fear factors. So the three things, for example,  the DMK will say for the BJP are the change of the constitution, north north-south divide, identity will be at risk and the imposition of Hindi. The bjp should have a similar defence to counter this. In the 2019 election, the opinions of the BJP and the alliance partner were mixed up which created confusion. The language of bjp and the alliance partner was very different. The prime minister in 2019/said please learn three languages and the third language is optional. You can pick any language you want because Tamil Nadu has so many linguistic-speaking minorities for example Coimbatore has predominantly Maliyalies and also Tamils. There is a high linguistic diversities, so when you are with the alliance you don’t need to communicate. The goal of BJP in the last two years has been to communicate aggressively. For the first time, the countering is happening.

The DMK is highly corrupted and the development, and GDP of the state are in a declining mode. The whole system is drenched in corruption, the government officials, agencies, and ministers included. The scams are being operated in very deep. rooted and technical manner. DNK and the leaders in the party are the masters in the manipulation of the way they divert the topics by talking about Sanatan dharma, and commenting about Hindutva when they feel an issue is approaching is commendable. They know Sanatan dharma is not going to give them any impact, then why are they talking about it it will keep their ill actions sealed under it. They want to push their shortcoming under the carpet by spreading the narrative of Sanatan dharma and criticising it aggressively.

Manipulating the media exists in many South Indian politicians, not only A. Raja and DMK.   The relationship between a politician and a journalist should be sacred, on the ground. When the media houses send or deploy a reporter just to ask sensational questions, bombarding the TRP of the channel, it becomes part of the planned or political strategy. They do not remain unbiased and now social media and WhatsApp messages do their work by editors dictating questions to the reporters about what to ask the politician to get more sensation on live TV. The reporter then does not in the intention to listen or converse with the politician but focuses on the WhatsApp messages the editor is sending. The ground relation and rapport between a journalist and a leader is lost due to these processes.

The relationship between a journalist and a politician should be on the grounds. It is the person who is on the ground taking a bite is more responsible and answerable to me than the person who is sitting and watching in an air-conditioned room. But in Tamil Nadu, everything is controlled by the editors and politicians. The reporters on the field are very normal and simple ones who just work on minimum wages in the direction of the editors. The editors are connected to the politicians and run the media as per them. The media should not play the role of an opposition. The media can ask tough questions as a media, but cannot play as an opposition party. For that political parties are there, because political parties shift that responsibility to the media and the media is going through all the hard work, and is not acceptable.

The coverage of the media has to be proportionate in every piece of news. When a party has a government in 18 states and another party has one in 2 states, for example, the coverage has to be proportionate. It is the responsibility of the political party, the opposition, and the government to generate news in multiple ways. However, parties cannot claim to the media to give a certain amount of space.

The fight between the Karunanidhi family and Annamalai is not personal but based on the party that he represents and the loyalty towards the prime minister and the party. Says Annamalai. If somebody attacks the prime minister and the party, it is not acceptable for him, he has to retaliate in the same manner.