How PM Modi is trying to create space for BJP in Tamil Nadu

Niraj Sharma
21 Nov 2022
How PM Modi is trying to create space for BJP in Tamil Nadu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the inauguration of Kashi Tamil Sangamam, in Varanasi

New Delhi: Over the past several years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been trying hard to create a foothold for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Dravidian stronghold of Tamil Nadu. Ever since the death of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, the saffron unit has been desperately trying to fill the vacuum. It is also being seen as an attempt by the PM to demolish the last bastion of regional and language chauvinism in the country.

Last week’s Kashi Tamil Sangamam was another attempt by PM Modi to reach out to the Tamil masses. With the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam being the flagbearer of extreme Tamil nationalism, the BJP is facing an uphill task of creating a space for itself. However, riding on PM Modi’s strong image and leadership, the party hopes to create a space in Tamil politics.

The PM has over the past several months repeatedly raised awareness regarding the ancient Tamil language and culture. The BJP’s ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, is also understood to be strongly backing the attempts by the Prime Minister to create a space for the BJP in Tamil politics.

The attempts to woo the voters are part of the saffron party’s attempts at expansion in South India. It is part of BJP's massive expansion plan in the region with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The party has set a target of winning 100 seats in Lok Sabha from the five southern states of the country. Tamil Nadu with its 39 Lok Sabha seats on the top of the priority list of the BJP for expansion in the region.

With the BJP almost reaching a saturation point in Lok Sabha wins in North, North-East and West Indian states, the party has been targeting expansion in South and East India. “These states are being targeted for compensating any losses due to anti-incumbency in the BJP’s stronghold states,” sources said.  The party feels that the third term being sought by PM Narendra Modi in 2024 would be highly dependent on BJP’s successful expansion in South and East India.

Is BJP planning to go it alone in the 2024 LS polls in Tamil Nadu?

Over the past two decades, the BJP has been contesting Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu in alliance with a regional player. During this time, the saffron unit has allied with both the Dravidian parties, the AIADMK and the DMK.

However, with an active, young and dynamic state unit chief in the form of K Annamalai, the saffron unit may now be looking at an all-out offence against Dravidian political parties in an effort to eke out its own space in Tamil politics.

PM Modi is also seemingly fond of the active political stances of Annamalai on various issues and is learnt to be backing him completely over his strategic moves that are directed through the Central BJP leadership.

With AIADMK on a back foot after the death of Jayalalithaa and the ensuing infighting amongst the party cadre, the BJP feels that this is the opportune moment for the saffron unit to spread itself amongst the masses. The attempt of the party would be to seek the votes of the educated and urban population, apart from targeting the women voters due to the popularity of PM Modi amongst these demographics, sources said.

The Congress had tried to take on Dravidian ideology-driven parties over the past several decades. However, Congress had failed miserably, ceding the political space entirely to the DMK and the AIADMK. If the BJP is able to break into Tamil Nadu’s vote share on its own, it would be the first such time that a national party would be able to do so.

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