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PM adds local flavour to Ram narrative with his TN temple appearances

TIRUCHIRAPPALLI, JAN 20 (UNI):- Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple, in Tiruchirappalli on Saturday. UNI PHOTO-25U

The Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP was banking on the Ram temple ‘Prana Pratishtha’ at Ayodhya to get it the much-needed breakthrough in Tamil politics.

With the BJP’s national leadership clamouring for 400 plus seats and a 50 per cent vote share, the Tamil Nadu unit of the party wants to chip in as well with a few seats.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his 11-day fasting period before the consecration function was in Tamil Nadu for three days prior to his departure to Ayodhya.

Modi made public visits to prominent temples in Tamil Nadu including the Ranganathananda temple at Trichy, the Rameswaram temple and the Arulmigu Ramaswamy temple at Dhanushkodi.

Modi bathed in all the 22 wells in Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameswaram and also took a dip in the sea while chanting mantras.

These public displays will indeed have an impact in Tamil Nadu and the BJP is expecting to gain tremendously in the state, riding piggyback on the Ram temple wave generated across India.

The party is expecting five seats from the state, which includes Kanniyakumari and Coimbatore where the BJP had won earlier.

However, the ground situation for the 2024 general elections is not good for the BJP in Tamil Nadu if it has no alliance with the AIADMK.

Being the principal Opposition party, the AIADMK is a powerful force in Tamil Nadu politics even now.

It lost the 2021 Assembly elections to the DMK by a small margin even after being in power for ten years continuously.

The arrogance of the Tamil Nadu BJP state President, K Annamalai, an IPS officer-turned-politician was the root cause of the breaking of the AIADMK-BJP alliance.

Annamalai had criticised the doyen of all the Dravidian movements of Tamil Nadu, C. Annadurai, aka Anna, the first Chief Minister of the state from a Dravidian party.

Annadurai is highly respected in the state and many social welfare schemes that have put Tamil Nadu in the top league in the social index were charted out by him.

KR Mukundan, Director, Institute of Policy and Social Studies, a think tank based out of Kanniyakumari told IANS, “The public visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prominent temples in the state, have given a big boost to the fortunes of the BJP in Tamil Nadu. However the party leadership should understand that they should not hurt Dravidian pride. Annamalai did that and his immature actions led to the AIADMK leaving the NDA alliance. This orphaned the BJP because without a Dravidian major it is very difficult for the BJP to make a mark in the elections here.”

Mukundan added that he would not be surprised if the BJP drew a blank in the 2024 general elections in the state after the high-pitch political drama carried out by Annamalai recently.

Sources in the AIADMK and BJP told IANS that some channels were working towards a patch up between the two parties but the arrogance and one-upmanship of Annamalai was working as a roadblock.

However, sources in the BJP central leadership told IANS that Union Home Minister Amit Shah would be directly communicating with Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) to bring the prominent Dravidian party back into the NDA fold.

If the alliance with the AIADMK materialises, the BJP may be able to win a minimum of three seats, including in its strong turfs of Kanniyakumari and Coimbatore and one more seat in South Tamil Nadu. However, the party leadership and think tanks are focusing on winning a minimum of five seats if the alliance materialises.

It may be recalled that in the 2019 general elections, where the DMK alliance won 38 of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu, the DMK front received a whopping 53.15 per cent of the vote share while the AIADMK-led NDA alliance garnered 30.57 per cent.

In the NDA alliance the AIADMK could secure 19.39 per cent of the votes while the BJP could fetch only 3.66 per cent votes. This shows how difficult it will be for the BJP to contest on its own in Tamil Nadu without support from either of the Dravidian parties.

It may be recalled that the BJP won four Assembly seats in the 2021 Assembly elections through a political alliance with the AIADMK. While the AIADMK garnered 33.29 per cent of the votes winning 66 Assembly seats, the BJP won four seats and got only 2.62 per cent vote share.

These figures clearly show how important the AIADMK is for the BJP in Tamil Nadu electoral politics.

While the BJP has been able to create an impressive show vis-à-vis the Ram temple, the ground realties will create major hurdles in the onward march of the saffron party in the state.

Even though Annamalai is considered a good leader, his arrogance with the alliance partners and even the media has not gone down well with the national leadership of the party. However the BJP central leadership is trying to take a median path and to capitalise on the Ram temple euphoria in the country.

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