Tamil Nadu Elections 2016: BJP banks on Tamil brahmins to win lone Chennai seat

Partymen hope that with yet another NDA government led by Narendra Modi in power, Mylapore will vote for the party's candidate K Nagarajan.

Latest News
BJP’s election office in Chennai’s cultural hub, Mylapore, is manned by two unpaid volunteers

It's past noon on a sweltering Chennai summer day and the new BJP office recently inaugurated in the locality of Mylapore looks as dead as the party's fortunes in the Tamil Nadu assembly elections. Inside the temporary structure littered with election canvassing paraphernalia sit two volunteers manning the outpost.

Mylapore is the only assembly constituency that has been won by the BJP in its history of existence in the state. The only time the party managed to win a seat in Tamil Nadu was in 2001, when its candidate KR Lakshmanan won Mylapore. The coincidence is that Mylapore, known as Chennai's cultural heart, supported a BJP candidate when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power at the Centre.

Partymen hope that with yet another NDA government led by Narendra Modi in power, Mylapore will vote for the party's candidate K Nagarajan.

The BJP seems to have formulated a 'class strategy' to maximize its chances in the only seat it fancies in Tamil Nadu.

Mylapore is perhaps the only constituency in Chennai where Tamil Brahmins, mostly Iyers, form a sizeable part of the 2.5 lakh voters. They live mostly in middle class and upper middle class localities in Mylapore. While some are priests by profession, others are working professionals.

The majority of the vote bank though is formed by the slum dwellers, all non-Brahmins, of Mylapore. Many of them reside in shanty towns like Ganesha Puram.

BJP volunteer Alaudeen (29) reveals the party's 'class' strategy to strike it rich. The party's election managers have divided Mylapore's vote bank into three classes.

'Class A' consists of the upper middle class, well heeled and highly educated Tamil Brahmins. Party volunteer Sarathy Kumar (39) explains, "Class A consists of people employed in senior managerial positions, businessmen and professionals earning multi-million salaries."

The BJP has defined 'Class B' voters in Mylapore as consisting of primarily middle class Brahmins. Volunteers explain that these people would include government employees, middle level managers and some of the poor priests of Mylapore.

The BJP estimates that the Iyer and Iyengar Brahmins constitute 70% of 'Class A' and 'Class B' voters.

Meanwhile 'Class C' consists of slum dwellers. This class is represented by illiterates, drunkards, voters whose children don't go to school and daily wage laborers.

The party has brain stormed about the expectations of each 'class' of voters in a bid to strategise about how to capture their vote.

BJP candidate Nagarajan, along with volunteers visit 'Class A' voters of Mylapore only on weekends. The reason behind the schedule is that the white collared 'Class A' voters are so busy in their professional responsibilities that they are available to be influenced only on weekends.

The strategy is modified when it comes to 'Class B' voters. These are people who have traditionally voted for Jayalalithaa's party but can oscillate BJP's way. Partymen meet each middle class family after 6 pm every day. This is the time when most of the 'Class B' people come back from work and sit down for a cup of tea.

The most intriguing twist in BJP's strategy comes while it comes to 'Class C' voters. Party workers hit the slums in the afternoon when the women have completed their morning chores and their children are back from school.

While a majority of the men in Mylapore slums are daily wage workers, many of them are alcohol abusers. The BJP says that it is these voters who are easily influenced by "cash for votes" tactics of the Dravidian parties

"These people have everything and want nothing from the government. They are the ones who will surely vote for the BJP." Alaudeen, BJP volunteer

Find your daily dose of news & explainers in your WhatsApp. Stay updated, Stay informed-  Follow DNA on WhatsApp.

Live tv