New Delhi, December 8
Post J Jayalalithaa’s demise, the BJP hopes to draw political mileage in Tamil Nadu due to a vacuum but it also faces certain complex challenges in dealing with the traditional Dravidian political mindset, those in the know of things in the saffron party and the NDA say. “One option as win-win situation for both BJP and AIADMK could be the two parties forming an alliance
at the state level and the AIADMK formally joining the Modi Government at the Centre,” said a BJP leader
working with southern parties. There are already a few ambitious AIADMK MPs too keen for ministerial berths and a section of BJP leaders have already thrown up the idea to the Tamil Nadu MPs informally, sources said.
“But things are premature but a decision may be taken once the party has a new General Secretary replacing the Late party supremo,” said a source.
BJP, though sees an ‘advantage’ owing largely to the late AIADMK supremo’s personal rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, there is also a line of caution as the Dravidian politics essentially remain “anti-Brahmin and anti-North India”-considered the chief characteristic of the politics of BJP so far.
A senior BJP leader from Karnataka, however, says things are “changing on ground” and as the younger
generation in Tamil Nadu, including in rural areas, are turning more cosmopolitan, the ‘hatred’ for the cow-belt or for that matter for the Hindi language too has got diluted over the years.
“Moreover, the Dravidian politics, though has been about putting the caste idiom in right perspective, there has been overwhelming tilt towards Hindutva politics especially by the AIADMK. Jayalalithaa herself never hesitated from associating with Narendra Modi despite 2002,” another party MP told UNI.
Adding to these ear-on-ground political readings, certain changes in BJP’s politics over the last decade and also Congress’s growing antagonism with the people of Tamil Nadu, might also work in favour of the saffron party.
BJP insiders say, one, Prime Minister Modi himself is not from upper caste and thus the anti-Brahmin feelings of AIADMK support base may not affect BJP’s prospects.
Secondly, over the last few decades, the Congress has only antagonised local Tamil sentiments over episodes like Tamil Tigers vis-a-vis the Sri Lankan policy, issues related to Tamil fishermen and also emotive issues like Ram Sethu. In 2007, Jayalalithaa herself had more than once charged the then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi with making ‘derogatory’ remarks against Lord Rama and for his opposition to Ram Sethu.
As of now, BJP should be happy with the smooth transition of power into the hands of incumbent Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who was also Jayalalithaa’s personal nominee twice into the job.
Essentially low-profile but die-hard loyalist of Jayalalithaa, Panneerselvam had previously served as Chief Minister in 2001-02 and 2014-15. His first two terms as chief minister came when he replaced Jayalalithaa after she was forced to resign by the courts. Thus, post-Jayalalithaa’s death, his coronation as the Chief Minister was seen as natural choice and bereft of any open rivalry.
“For the BJP, Panneerselvam’s rise as Chief Minister is status quo as the Centre and the ruling BJP seemed to have worked with him through the Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao,” a key party source told UNI.
In fact, the photograph and the video footage of Prime Minister Modi himself consoling Panneerselvam holding close to his chest virtually went viral indicating that the saffron party would be adopting a softer or rather patronising approach towards the new Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
“BJP has been dreaming of expansion in the southern region. They could not do much beyond Karnataka. Jayalalithaa’s death creates a situation to try their machinations as the new Chief Minister would need Central Government’s generosity,” says senior CPI-M leader P Karunakaran.
AIADMK’s arch rival DMK may try to cause an organisational as well as legislative split in the AIADMK and BJP’s help can help to ward off such a crisis.
AIADMK has 137 assembly seats in the 234-member assembly and also 50 MPs (37 Lok Sabha and 13 Rajya Sabha). These are important numbers for the ensuing Presidential and vice-president elections slated by August-September 2017.
Yet again the southern political wind of Tamil Nadu is likely to leave a lasting impact on the national
New Delhi, December 8