PM visit to speed-up BJP’s rainbow coalition efforts

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI file photo

BJP’s grand plans to stitch a rainbow coalition in Tamil Nadu to take on the formidable DMK-Congress alliance is expected to get a fillip when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits this temple town to inaugurate government projects and address a public meeting.

With all opinion polls pointing that the BJP might not perform as expected in the north, the party has turned its focus on Southern India, especially Tamil Nadu which accounts for 40 Lok Sabha seats, including the lone Puducherry seat.

The BJP has informally launched talks for an alliance with AIADMK, which seems reluctant at this point partly because of opposition from senior leaders, district functionaries and cadre, and is expected to touch base with other parties like the PMK and DMDK – which were part of the BJP’s rainbow alliance in 2014. Though the BJP brought all smaller parties under its coalition in 2014, it could win only two seats – BJP in Kanniyakumari and PMK in Dharmapuri.

During his speech at the public meeting at Mandela Nagar grounds near the airport, Modi is expected to throw light on BJP’s strategy in Tamil Nadu for the Lok Sabha polls due in May. The meeting would effectively launch the BJP’s campaign for Lok Sabha polls and that is why the party has chosen Madurai as the venue – the temple town is considered lucky for politicians and many launch their political parties and election campaign from here. 

Though he will meet the top brass of the AIADMK – Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam – at the ground-breaking ceremony for AIIMS in Madurai, there is little clarity on whether Modi will broach the alliance topic with the duo himself.

With the DMK and Congress firming up their alliance and the regional party even proposing Rahul Gandhi as its Prime Ministerial nominee, the BJP wants its alliance announced much before the election dates are announced. “Prime Minister Modi’s public meeting in Madurai will give momentum to the BJP’s efforts for an alliance and also change the course of politics in Tamil Nadu,” TN BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan said.

Tamil Nadu BJP’s national in-charge Piyush Goyal is also expected to be with Modi during his short visit to Tamil Nadu. Separately, Goyal will hold talks with leaders of AIADMK and other parties.  

Though the AIADMK is not quite popular among the people after the death of its charismatic leader J Jayalalithaa in 2016, the BJP feels it makes sense to ally with the Dravidian party since it has more than 20 per cent of vote share. Also, roping in parties like the PMK, DMDK and a few other outfits which have influence in pockets would also help the BJP.

BJP was untouchable for both Dravidian parties from 2004 till 2016 but things have changed dramatically since Jayalalithaa’s death. However, BJP’s efforts to make inroads in Tamil Nadu has come a cropper and hence it feels, sources said, an alliance with AIADMK would ensure that it gets the chunk of the regional party’s vote share if not the entire percentage.

AIADMK under Jayalalithaa had polled more than 40 per cent of votes in 2016 assembly elections. But the share might witness a deep plunge with AIADMK split into two and Jayalalithaa passing away.

 

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