Voices opposed to BJP grow louder in Tamil Nadu
Chennai: The ongoing protests against National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in Tamil Nadu is only the latest in a series of anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) agitations that have rocked the state in the recent past.
In one of the road-roko protests in Chennai on Wednesday, the loudest in Tamil was: Madhya arase, madhya arase! Maanamketta madhya arase! Ketkutha ketkutha? engal kural ketkutha? (Central government! Shameless central government! Can you hear us? Can you hear our voices?).
Among the recent protests: pro-Jallikattu agitation in January, farmer agitations in Delhi, agitations against hydrocarbon extraction in Neduvasal and protests against oil exploration by Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) across the Cauvery delta.
Though there have been protests against the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government in the state, anger against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is rising.
As the BJP—which has nil representation in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly and one MP from the state—makes desperate attempts to gain a foothold amid political turmoil in the state, the anti-BJP chorus is getting louder.
A bunch of legislators shifting loyalties, splinter groups unifying and then again parting ways, have been the AIADMK’s tableau over the past nine months. For BJP, the factional feud in the AIADMK, which has 15 million members, came in handy.
The truce orchestrated by BJP between Edappadi K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam by eliminating the V.K. Sasikala family, who have been attempting to retain the power centres of the party after the death of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, has backfired.
Meanwhile, the state government’s approach to central policies that were earlier strongly opposed by Jayalalithaa has attracted public ire.
After Jayalaliathaa was sworn in for a second consecutive term in May, last year, she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June and demanded that the centre should accept the state’s amendments to the GST bill. She had also stressed on a permanent exemption for Tamil Nadu from the common entrance exam NEET, and opposed other schemes like the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) and National Food Security Act (NFSA).
Recently, the opposition leader and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) working president, M.K. Stalin claimed: “The Tamil Nadu government has surrendered itself to Delhi.”
For Tamil Nadu, which has not allowed any Delhi-headquartered party to come to power in the last 50 years, the Palaniswami government’s non-confrontational approach to maintain “smooth relations” with the centre is clearly not going well with the public.
Ramu Manivannan, professor and head of the department of politics and public administration, University of Madras said that by forcing its agenda on the people, BJP’s plans are fizzling out.
Manivannan said that Modi and his party are “nowhere near the popular approval.” He added that the saffron party is “forcing the people, to see them as an alternative,” and it is in fact, paving the way for an “anti-BJP stance in Tamil Nadu.”