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Will 'Modi wave' wrest TN back into NDA's fold?

March 28, 2014 14:51 IST

Will the perceived Narendra Modi wave help the National Democratic Alliance re-enact the 1998 spectacular success in Tamil Nadu when it bagged 30 seats in alliance with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, is the million dollar question on the minds of the Bharatiya Janata Party workers as the party heads into the April 24 Lok Sabha polls armed with a rainbow combine excluding the two Dravidian majors.

The saffron party appears confident which comes from the first ever grand alliance it managed to pull off in the state bringing onboard key local players like Desiya Morpukku Dravida Kazhagam, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Pattali Makkal Katchi and Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi.

The AIADMK is contesting all 39 seats on its own while the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has formed an alliance with smaller parties like Indian Union MuslimLeague and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi.

The BJP, which never had a strong presence in Tamil Nadu, be it organisational strength or support base, except in a few places such as Coimbatore and Kanyakumari districts, is now buoyant, counting on the alliance and its prime ministerial candidate's popularity to revive the golden memories of 1998.

The BJP clocked a mere 2.3 per cent vote share when it contested 12 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls all alone. Its present partner, the DMDK which too fought alone got 10.3 per cent vote share. BJP's other allies now, the PMK and MDMK as part of the AIADMK combine secured 5.72 per cent and 3.67 per cent respectively in 2009 polls.

Will the 21.99 per cent votes which the NDA allies together polled besides the votes of smaller allies like the Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi transfer as a whole to the saffron combine in the April 24 election is to be watched keenly.

BJP leader P Muralidhar Rao recently said "the votes will not just be additional, but very significantly incremental."

Saffron party leaders expect that the "Modi magic," would pull the youth and more importantly first time voters who constitute a major chunk of the electorate and are "fed up" with the two key Dravidian parties, which have been dominating the state's political scene for over five decades.

Now, add up the perceived electoral dividend for Modi's OBC background being played up subtly by the BJP in Tamil Nadu, where Dravidian parties have a long history of posting victories by championing the cause of backward classes.

Also, the BJP in recent years has been very articulate in espousing the cause of Tamil fishermen and Sri Lankan Tamils.

With strident pro-Tamil parties like MDMK on its side, there is an expectation that the pro-Tamil vote bank would swing the NDA way. When all factors are taken into account BJP hopes that it would be able to win a good number of seats.

It may be easier said than done as the AIADMK and DMK alliances are very aggressive in electioneering and have strong, dedicated vote banks.

The Modi wave could be true or just hype. It may or may not fetch electoral dividends, but the undisputable fact is it was only the "perceived wave" that helped BJP bring together political parties into the NDA fold, including bitter rivals, the DMDK and PMK.

Vaiko's MDMK, Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi and the IJK got into the BJP combine only propelled by the NaMo factor.

The DMDK has been given the lion's share of 14 of the 39 seats, followed by BJP and PMK at eight each. MDMK will be fighting from seven seats while IJK and KMDK will field candidates from one constituency each.

Interestingly, the groundwork on putting up a formidable alliance gained momentum just after Modi attracted a huge turnout to his party's youth conference in Tiruchirappalli in September last and followed it up with a good showing at a rally in Chennai.

Goaded by the "Modi wave", the deep hate for Congress quickly catapulted strident pro-Tamil leader and Gandhian Makkal Iyakkam chief Tamilaruvi Manian to the BJP's side.

He successfully coordinated painstaking efforts spread over several months to bring parties with diverse stance on several issues to the NDA fold.

For now, the BJP can be happy that it was able to stitch an alliance unlike its main national rival Congress, which has been left to fend for itself with none of the parties showing interest in having any truck with the party in the state.

V Gangadharan in Chennai
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