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Business News/ Politics / News/  Lok Sabha Polls 2024: Behind PM Narendra Modi's frequent visits to south is BJP's target 370
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Lok Sabha Polls 2024: Behind PM Narendra Modi's frequent visits to south is BJP's target 370

Of the 127 seats in five southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Lakshadweep, the BJP could win only 29 in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Of these, 25 came from Karnataka and four from Telangana.

PM Narendra Modi during a rally at Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu on February 27.Premium
PM Narendra Modi during a rally at Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu on February 27.

On February 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was all praise for AIADMK icons MG Ramachandran (MGR) and J Jayalalithaa.

Speaking at a valedictory meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president K Annamalai’s ‘En Mann En Makkal’ padayatra in Tamil Nadu's Tirupur, the prime minister called MGR an “incomparable leader" besides referring to Jayalalithaa’s governance as the hallmark of dedicated service to the people of the state

Some analysts said the comments were PM Modi's appeal to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) vote bank while others said that it was his indirect reach-out to AIADMK, the opposition party in Tamil Nadu that was a BJP ally until September last year.

On Wednesday, PM Modi called the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leaders ‘blind’, over a state minister’s ad for a new Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spaceport featuring an image of a rocket with the Chinese flag symbol.

The prime minister accused the leaders of DMK, the ruling party in Tamil Nadu, of “belittling" India’s achievements — particularly its space programme and said the ad was “an insult to scientists".

Southern push

Analysts can differ, but one thing remains undisputed - Prime Minister Modi and the BJPs' efforts to make inroads in the south where the saffron party's presence, except in Karnataka, has not been up to the mark ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Kerala and Tamil Nadu on February 27-28 as part of his ambitious southern push. This is PM Modi's third visit to the southern states this year.

The PM began the year with a tour of Tamil Nadu, Lakshadweep, and Kerala on January 2-3, in which he inaugurated developmental projects worth thousands of crores. PM Modi also took up his 11-day tour to South India where he visited several temples associated with Ramayan in the run-up to the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya on January 22. In his latest two-day trip, the prime minister said that the BJP would win “double-digit" seats in Kerala while the neighbouring Tamil Nadu would “create history in 2024".

Target 370

Of the 127 seats in five southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Telangana and Union Territory Lakshadweep, the BJP could win only 29 in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Of these, 25 came from Karnataka and four from Telangana. The party drew a blank in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh in 2019.

Also Read: ‘DMK govt in Tamil Nadu not cooperating in Central schemes', says PM in Tirunelveli

Sources said that the BJP’s key focus will be 84 seats in South India, declared ‘weak’ category seats that the party has never won. The number is crucial if the party has to achieve its target of 370 seats for the BJP and 400 + for the NDA, according to the analysts. 

Prime Minister Modi had for the first time mentioned the target 370 while speaking at a rally in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month. The BJP government abrogated Jammu and Kashmir's Article 370, granting it a special status, in 2019,

Speculation within the BJP suggests that PM Modi’s frequent visits to the south show his desire to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls from a constituency in Tamil Nadu, or any neighbouring state, apart from his constituency in Varanasi.

Focus on booths

The party also has plans to send senior party leaders and Union ministers to the states south of Vindhya ahead of the 2024 polls. The idea is to meet party workers with a focus on central schemes.

“Work on connecting people from your booth to the voter list, encourage the first-time voters, and inform them about the benefits of voting," Prime Minister Modi said while addressing the Shakthikendra Incharges Sammelan in Kochi, Kerala on January 17.

In Karnataka, the state which it lost in 2023 assembly elections , the BJP is making amends. Apart from an alliance with Janata Dal (Secular) to consolidate the Vokkaliga vote, the BJP is mulling replacing more than half the MPs from the state in the upcoming elections.

In Telangana, after its impressive performance by winning eight seats and doubling its vote share, the BJP is working on some organisational measures and is aiming to win at least 10 of the 17 Lok Sabha seats. The party is also planning to stitch up alliances in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu ahead of the 2024 general elections.

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Published: 28 Feb 2024, 06:53 PM IST
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