RSS meet in Coimbatore said to indicate BJP’s bid to make inroads in Tamil Nadu
Chennai: The bigwigs of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, for the party’s three-day meeting—a first in the state in the organization’s 92-year-old history.
The meet comes in the wake of its political arm Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) massive victory in four states in the recently concluded assembly elections.
After making an impact in the northern, western and eastern parts of the country, the BJP would be targeting the southern states. Though it might not instantly reap results, the party would be charting its future course of action, according to analysts.
“None of the Sangh Parivar organizations have ever had their national council meeting in Tamil Nadu. This means, the BJP, which wasn’t keen about Tamil Nadu as a state for it’s ideological entry, is now considering it seriously,” said Ramu Manivannan, head of the department of politics and public administration, Madras University.
Despite the current transition that Tamil Nadu politics is undergoing, it may not immediately give the right-wing party a space, but could open up opportunities like political alliances, added Manivannan.
As finding an ally became difficult for the BJP, the party tied up with some fringe groups during the 2016 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu after struggling to field candidates for the 234 constituencies in the state.
While the BJP is the principal opposition in Karnataka, which goes to polls next year, the party has negligible presence in other four southern states.
N. Sadagopan, RSS spokesperson for Tamil Nadu, told Mint that RSS works above party politics and, “the BJP is just another wing of our organization, which works in the political field with our inspiration”.
“Of course, can’t deny the fact that the growth of RSS would automatically reflect positively in the vote bank of BJP,” said Sadagopan.
He also claimed that this three-day event was annual review meeting “for all our activities that were conducted last year and political discussions are not part of this meeting”.
Meanwhile, this meeting of Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the highest decision making and policy formulation body of the RSS, was inaugurated by Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday. BJP president Amit Shah would attend the meet on Tuesday, said the party.
The RSS, which found it difficult to organize rallies or demonstrations in Tamil Nadu under the late chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s regime, conducted its route march in Chennai after a gap of 16 years in January.
“We have never faced problems in organizing events in other states, including Kerala where the CPI(M) is in power. But the trouble has come only in Tamil Nadu. Even during DMK’s regime, we would meet the chief minister or appeal in the court and have managed to get permission. But it got more difficult under Jayalalithaa,” said Sadagoppan.
He added that the government had denied permission to the RSS to organize rallies in Tamil Nadu over the years, citing security reason, after the 1998 bomb blasts in Coimbatore.
In November 1997, a traffic constable was murdered in the city followed by communal riots that killed 18 Muslims. Then Coimbatore witnessed a serial blast, killing 58 and injuring more than 200 on 14 February, 1998.
While the BJP had never successfully allied with the two main political parties of Tamil Nadu during the assembly elections, they have struck alliances with DMK and AIADMK during the general elections.
The AIADMK’s alliance with the BJP in the 1998 Lok Sabha polls helped the national party to form the government as the allies bagged 30 of the 39 seats. But, within a year the AIADMK withdrew its support and the BJP lost the vote of confidence, leading to fresh elections in 1999.
Then, the BJP aligned with the DMK winning 31 of the 39 seats and formed the government at the Centre. When the DMK walked out of the NDA just months before the 2004 general elections, the BJP formed an alliance with the AIADMK only to draw a blank.