The party wants to become one of the main ‘players’ in state politics and this can happen only with the help of strategic alliances.
It is now almost certain that the Bharatiya Janata Party will take the alliance route in Tamil Nadu to get a foothold in the state in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, according to party sources.
The party feels that Dravidian politics, which ruled the state for more than half a century, has come to an end with the passing away of two stalwarts—J. Jayalalithaa last year and now M. Karunanidhi—and there is a political vacuum in the state. The party may not win elections in the immediate future, but it wants to become one of the main “players” in state politics and this can happen only with the help of strategic alliances.
“We have always been keen to increase our visibility in Tamil Nadu. As the era of Dravidian politics has come to an end, we will make every attempt to find a space for ourselves there. But it’s not an easy job, we will have to work very hard. We are working to strengthen our position in the state and now ignoring BJP in Tamil Nadu is not possible anymore,” said a BJP leader.
The BJP could win only one out of 39 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, it put together a front (of NDA) in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections comprising BJP, DMDK, PMK, MDMK and a few other smaller parties. Its alliance partner PMK won one seat. The rest 37 seats went to AIADMK. Karunanidhi’s DMK could not win even a single seat. However, the BJP could not keep its partners intact later as PMK, DMDK and MDMK left the alliance.
BJP sources said that in the changed political scenario now, except for the Left parties and the Congress, the BJP can find a partner in the fractured AIADMK or even the DMK or the newly floated T.T.V. Dinakaran’s party. It can also retain its erstwhile allies, Vijayakanth’s DMDK and S. Ramadoss’ PMK. However, their vote share, compared to the 2014 elections, is much lower. In the past five years, DMDK has been virtually wiped out. MDMK, too, has lost its ground. A section of AIADMK and Rajinikanth’s yet-to-be-formed party could join hands with the BJP. It also remains to be seen which way Kamal Haasan’s party Makkal Needhi Maiam goes, though Haasan has said that his party will not join hands with BJP.
While the leadership issue has plagued AIADMK, it remains to be seen how M.K. Stalin, who has been declared the political heir of Karunanidhi, steers DMK. The Congress, on the other hand, does not have any state leader or cadre ever since it was uprooted by the Dravidian parties 50 years ago.
During his recent visit to the state, BJP’s national president Amit Shah told partymen about the need to form alliances. He told them that corruption is a major issue in Tamil Nadu and that only a BJP government would be able to check it.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address a party rally in October, which will be attended by 1.25 lakh booth-level workers. Shah has given the BJP state unit a deadline of September-end to appoint representatives to all the state’s 66,000 polling booths.