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'BJP doesn't want DMK to support Congress'

June 15, 2023 11:24 IST

'The BJP knows only one language, intimidation!'

IMAGE: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin meets state minister V Senthil Balaji who is admitted to the Omandurar government hospital in Chennai after his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, June 14, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

Over a period of two days Tamil Nadu Minister V Senthil Balaji was raided, interrogated and finally arrested by the Enforcement Directorate.

Even though he is only 48, he was stressed enough to get a heart attack, and after an angiogram he has been advised bypass surgery.

Balaji, a minister in the former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government, is the first of Chief Minister M K Stalin's ministers to come under the ED's glare.

By now the pattern seems clear. Unsettle enough of ministers in governments headed by Opposition parties, and who knows who will yield, who will hold.

One saw this playbook in Maharashtra, where enough of ruling Shiv Sena MLAs crossed over to the BJP's side to form a government. Delhi, West Bengal, Karnataka, the list of Opposition-ruled governments facing the heat of central probe agencies is long.

Is the same tactic being employed in Tamil Nadu, where over the weekend Home Minister Amit A Shah spoke of 25 BJP MPs from the state in the next Lok Sabha election?

A S Panneerselvan, senior journalist, political observer and author of a biography on Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam stalwart M Karunanidhi, tells A Ganesh Nadar/, "They (the BJP) never learn from their mistakes. They are politically naïve. The godi media is not telling them the truth."


What is the Bharatiya Janata Party's game in Tamil Nadu? First its TN chief K Annamalai released a list of the assets of DMK leaders.
Then they installed a Sengol in Parliament. Amit Shah informed us that he expects 25 BJP MPs from Tamil Nadu in 2024. Then they arrest Senthil Balaji.

This is the game plan of the BJP as they are scared that Tamil Nadu has changed the narrative. The DMK and Congress have been gaining since 2019. They fear that they will not get a single seat here in 2024.

What happened to the earlier cases? What happened to (former AIADMK health minister) C Vijayabaskar? Their aim is to intimidate ministers. They have zero conviction. Political naivety is what makes them do this.

These activities actually galvanise the opposition. Sharad Pawar and Mallikarjun Kharge have already commented on this. They get the opposition together faster. It will backfire on the BJP.

Senthil Balaji is not being investigated for what he did as a DMK minister, but what he did as an All India Anna DMK minister. Does the DMK have to defend him? Why is the AIADMK silent about him?

The whole thing is happening because there is an anti-BJP sentiment in the state. They want to divert attention from that. They have the AIADMK on their side, but that is not enough, they feel.

People know and people are aware of what happened in Karnataka now and earlier in Bengal. The BJP has lost the narrative here.

If Senthil Balaji had stayed in the AIADMK, do you think he would have been targeted?

It has everything to do with the DMK. This case happened when he was a member of Jayalalitha's cabinet. He has been specifically targeted because he helped strengthen the DMK in the western region.

Can we expect more DMK ministers to be targeted?

The BJP knows only one language, intimidation! They threatened D K Shivakumar and arrested him. The Congress won the Karnataka elections and he is now the deputy chief minister.

They never learn from their mistakes. They are politically naïve. The godi media that they follow is not telling them the truth.

Is this a pressure tactic to force the DMK to move to the BJP camp?

They want the DMK to move away from the Congress. When Rahul Gandhi started his Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari, M K Stalin was there for the inauguration of the yatra.

They don't want the DMK to support the Congress.

You have to remember that V V Giri became the President (in 1969) with DMK support.

The DMK was an important partner in the National Front government.

The NDA under (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee completed a full term with DMK support.

With AIADMK support it had lasted only 13 months.

What options does Senthil Balaji have?

He has to recover fast. He has to galvanise his political cadre. It will backfire on the BJP.

The BJP does not have a plan B, it has no clarity. M K Stalin is a more senior politician than most Union ministers.

The BJP did not expect Senthil Balaji to have an actual heart attack. They thought he was acting. Now they don't know how to react.

Right-wing politics doesn't work in Tamil Nadu. We saw it when L Murugan's Vel Yatra flop miserably. Do you think the BJP will change its ways?

They never learn anything from their mistakes. They are misled by the godi media. They are listening to and believing their own propaganda. It will not work in Tamil Nadu.

What was Amit Shah thinking when he said that he wanted to make a Tamil the prime minister?

I have no idea! Maybe he was thinking of Nirmala Sitharaman or S Jaishankar. They are the two Tamilians in the Cabinet and both are weak leaders.

Why is Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi so against the state government?

The governor is acting on behalf of the Union government.

The BJP lost miserably in Karnataka. Why are they making so much noise in Tamil Nadu where they know they don't stand a chance?

It is delusional politics when you start believing your own propaganda. It is different from reality.

They have forgotten both Bengal and Karnataka.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/