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22 Aug 2019, Edition - 1500, Thursday

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Coimbatore

BJP needs to handle Hindi issue with care

Vidyashree Dharmaraj

The BJP is trying to make inroads into Tamil Nadu, where Dravidian parties have long ago banished the national parties, which had to tie up with either DMK or the AIADMK when it came to the state politics.

But will it be successful?

It is Modi who is seen as a success, but ironically, it is the BJP that is pulling his image down among the people of Tamil Nadu.

All the good work done by the prime minister – on the policy front, on the bold economic decisions including demonetization and fight against corruption – could get overshadowed by issues that ignite popular mood against the BJP in a state that had relegated national parties as also rans in electoral fray in the state.

Congress was ejected from Tamil Nadu in the late sixties and is yet to find its feet again. It has tied up with both AIADMK and DMK at different times and the BJP too has played ball with both these Dravidian parties.

It might do the BJP good to dig into history a bit to discover it was a strong anti-Hindi agitation to counter a perceived move of the then central government to impose Hindi across the state that eventually led to the ouster of the Congress – and gave DMK president M Karunanidhi a launch vehicle that he rode to power.

Tamil Pride is the one single theme that the two Dravidian parties used as their calling card, with the people here choosing their local government from either of the two Dravidian parties and when it came to centre, voted strategically so as to back the winning horse.

At present, the Congress has absolutely no strength of its own and depends solely on the DMK and piggy rides on its political clout and hopes for the best. But the real strength of the Congress is its less than five per cent vote share, that becomes crucial in a closely fought assembly elections.

The Congress has already tied up with the DMK and the two are making enough noises that they would stick together come hell or high water.

So, this leaves the BJP with the only other option – the AIADMK. But which AIADMK is the question as the ruling party is facing a rebellion of sorts and it is split down the middle. Only the power factor has kept the MLAs united and backing the ruling faction that is led by jailed AIADMK(Amma) faction general secretary VK Sasikala.

But, it is a tense present that the Edapaddi Palaniswami government is undergoing as the undercurrents and impact of the corruption cases against its leaders – TTV Dinakaran and ED cases against Sasikala – with prospects of more ministers getting embroiled in similar cases – its future too looks shaky, even as former chief minister O Panneerselvam mounts his challenge to Sasikala faction in the people’s court.

At a time like this, with merger of the two AIADMK factions seemingly becoming more remote with each passing day, prospects of a mid-term general elections for the state looms larger. There are political analysts who expect assembly polls even before the local body polls that are to be held soon.

The BJP is sure that the Edapaddi Palaniswami government will fall as the ruling party had become weak. Its weakness is reflected in the government’s utter failure to address any of the people’s problems, said TN BJP chief Tamilisai Sounderrajan. “There is nothing that the BJP needs to do. The government will fall under the weight of its own contradictions within the party,” she told media persons on Friday.

The BJP sure finds itself in a position to expand its base in Tamil Nadu, but it runs the risk of annoying the Tamil voters through its undisguised Hindi propagation drive. If the Congress gave the Tamil regional parties a stick to beat it with by its attempts to popularize Hindi, the BJP too seems to be going the same path.

“The perception among the people is that the Modi government has not been fair to Tamil Nadu on a host of crucial issues. This can and will be exploited by the opposition (read Cong-DMK as also a faction of AIADMK that could be forced to oppose it), that can whip up Tamil pride once again.

DMK working president MK Stalin is already doing it – listing out issues and instances when the centre was seemingly anti-Tamil Nadu. “Even if not true, in the perception battle in Tamil Nadu, the centre and BJP come across poorly.

Meanwhile, the challenger – OPS – launched a blistering attack against Edapaddi Palaniswami for running a benami government and declared that elections would be held soon for the assembly. “Sasikala is still the general secretary of the party and TTV Dinakaran is still the deputy secretary of the party. You cannot fool the people, who are watching,” he said during his mass contact programme on Friday. His assessment of early assembly elections matches the observation of MK Stalin, DMK working president made after the demise of chief minister J Jayalalithaa after prolonged illness at Apollo Hospital in December last year.

Meanwhile, Stalin has also hit the road, so to speak, with his own public meetings. He has been pepping up his cadre for the “ensuing battle” for assembly soon. “They could be sooner than expected as the infighting within the ruling faction – that functions at the behest of the Mannargudi Mafia – will bring down the government,” opined a senior DMK leader.

“We are ready for polls any time,” he said.

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