PM Modi’s Southern Challenge As BJP Grapples Without Allies In Tamil Nadu

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So far, only GK Vasan, chief of Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), has joined hands with the BJP.

Chennai:

Ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s tour of Tamil Nadu tomorrow in preparation for the Lok Sabha polls, he has his task cut out to try and revive the political fortunes of the BJP in a state where the party, with a negligible 3 per cent vote share, is grappling without any major ally after AIADMK snapped its ties.

Both Dravidian arch-rivals, the ruling DMK with the INDIA bloc and its former ally the AIADMK, are keeping the BJP at arm’s length.

So far, only GK Vasan, chief of Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), has joined hands with the BJP. Indications suggest that Puthiya Thamizhagam and a few other smaller allies are mulling to switch to the DMK camp. Ousted AIADMK leaders O Panneerselvam (OPS), Sasikala, and TTV Dhinakaran, are willing to join the fold.

PM Modi’s political rally at Palladam in Tiruppur district this afternoon would mark the culmination of BJP state unit’s chief K Annamalai’s padayatra, touching all 233 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu. Braving odds and counting on PM Modi’s influence and the impact of his March, Mr Annamalai told NDTV, “Forget who was with us then and now. When we started the rally, it was a BJP rally; now it has evolved into a people’s movement. More parties will join and strengthen Prime Minister Modi’s hands in the months to come.”

GK Vasan told NDTV, “Ours is a regional party with a national outlook, and we need to strengthen Prime Minister Modi’s hands to make India the third world economy and for the country’s security.”

The BJP, which failed in the Dravidian heartland in the 2019 elections, is taking on the ruling DMK on issues of corruption and dynastic politics.

The ruling DMK, now part of the INDIA bloc, had swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, winning 38 of the 39 seats, and has kept its alliance intact. It is taking on the BJP, raising issues of usurping rights of states, denying special relief packages to floods-ravaged Chennai and Tuticorin,  price rise, and financial discrimination towards southern states.

The AIADMK, which had won just one seat last time and had lost both elections it fought with the BJP, is fighting for the first time under the singular leadership of Edappadi K Palaniswamy (EPS).

Amid these challenges, PM Modi’s addresses would be keenly watched to see if he would go beyond his pro-Tamil rhetoric to offer the state substantial financial and relief packages besides Tamil Nadu’s long-standing demand for NEET exemption.

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