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The politics of urbanisation in Tamil Nadu

Aditi Phadnis 

Jayalalithaa, MGR
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa leaves after attending a party function at the party office in Chennai. Photo: PTI

Ever wondered why political parties dole out so many freebies to voters in Tamil Nadu? During the last Assembly elections in 2011, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa offered the following to voters: TV, food blenders, fans, laptops and mineral water, along with a connection to cable TV. The Opposition, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, said it would give small plots of land to the poor. Jayalalithaa said she would build houses for them. The list of lures goes on.

The politics of urbanisation in Tamil Nadu
The reason lies in one number: 34,917,440. That's the number of people who live in urban areas in Tamil Nadu, compared to 37,229,590 in rural areas, of a total population of 72,147,030 in the state. Tamil Nadu is the third most urbanised state in India, according to the 2011 Census. Of the total households in the state, 42.47 per cent live in urban areas. And, the sops offered to voters are just a recognition of that reality.

In much of North India, it is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that is seen as a party favouring rapidly urbanising policies because it is seen as having its base in urban areas. Tamil Nadu is an exception. The BJP is outside the political recognition of the average Tamil voter when it comes to Assembly elections. Of course, this is because of history and a variety of other reasons. The coming summer elections are likely to be variations on this theme.

The politics of urbanisation in Tamil Nadu

The politics of urbanisation in Tamil Nadu

First Published: Sun, January 31 2016. 23:19 IST