BJP holds Chennai rally in bid to make inroads into Tamil Nadu politics
Chennai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been attempting to strengthen its emaciated base in Tamil Nadu, took out a rally in Chennai on Monday, demanding prohibition, civic polls and improvement of education in government-run schools.
According to the youth wing of the party, which organized the rally called the “March to the Fort”, referring to George Fort that houses the legislative assembly, was to “disturb” the Edappadi K. Palaniswami-led state government.
The party, which had earlier said that it would be a massive event, saw only a few hundred people taking part.
Head of the BJP youth wing Poonam Mahajan and state youth wing chief Vinoj P. Selvam, among other leaders, participated in the rally.
This comes at a time when it is speculated that the BJP at the centre is trying to make inroads into the southern state in the midst of a factional feud in the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
After the demise of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, in December last year, the AIADMK has been split into AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) under former chief minister O. Panneerselvam and AIADMK (Amma) under chief minister Palaniswami. The party’s sidelined deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran has also been trying to establish his supremacy with the support of a few MLAs.
The BJP has been attempting to play the role of a mediator between the two AIADMK factions. However, with Panneerselvam announcing a protest against the government on 10 August, the merger looks unlikely
With Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan as the only MP from the state, the BJP, which recorded a mere 2.8% vote share in the assembly elections last year and doesn’t have a single MLA in the state assembly, has been trying to connect with the people of Tamil Nadu through its “Vistarak Yojana” programme.
BJP national president Amit Shah, who is scheduled to visit the state from 22 August, is expected to oversee the programme that was launched to enable party leaders to connect with party workers and interact with rural people.
In March this year, the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the highest decision-making and policy formulation body of BJP’s ideological arm Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), conducted its annual meeting in Tamil Nadu for the first time in its 92-year-old history. This was seen as a major attempt by the Sangh to aid BJP in establishing a footprint among the Dravidian parties.