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'This exposes the real face of the BJP'

July 20, 2023 10:29 IST
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'This is the real purpose behind the arrest, and it is not about controlling corruption.'
'It is like taking Amit Shah into custody before the 2024 elections.'
'How will it affect the BJP's election machinery?'

IMAGE: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President Muthuvel Karunanidhi Stalin meets state minister V Senthil Balaji at the government hospital in Chennai, June 14, 2023.

On Tuesday, the Enforcement Directorate raided another Tamil Nadu minister. Last month, the ED raided Minister Senthil Balaji, leading to Governor R N Ravi dismissing him, then rescinding his order in a couple of hours.

What kind of repercussions will these ED raids have on the 2024 elections in Tamil Nadu?

Dr Ramu Manivannan, Visiting Professor of Political Science at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, discusses the likely political scenario with's Shobha Warrier.

Professor Manivannan, former head and professor of political science at Madras University, is a keen observer of Tamil Nadu politics.

The concluding segment of a two-part interview:


Do you think the BJP used the governor to improve its Hindu vote share in the state?

This was to improve the party's visibility. This is what the BJP has been doing everywhere, all the time.

They try to increase their visibility not through a political process or developmental work, but through such acts.

Their ally, the AIADMK has lost its way and it is completely under the thumb rule of the BJP.

So, they have found that this is one way of staying alive in front of the media as media visibility is very important for them.

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party supremo and Prime Minister Narendra D Modi is greeted by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami at the NDA meeting in New Delhi, July 18, 2023.

Will this kind of visibility get the BJP votes?

No, it won't get them votes. It at least makes them the subject of discussion and keeps them alive.

After that, they have to do one good thing covert the attention to votes.

On the other hand, the DMK has to make only one mistake and they are out. And for the BJP, it needs only right to get in.

This is how the system works for those in power and for those not in power.

That's why the BJP wants to constantly engage people by all means.

Has this incident put the DMK on the back foot?

Certainly not. The DMK has come out very strongly out of the Senthil Balaji incident.

The chief minister's letter is a very interesting one. He wrote, 'Though your letters require only an outright disregard, I am writing to you to clarify both the facts and law on the issue on hand,'.

Anyone with a sense of politics will know how strong his reply is.

This incident also has shown that a state government can stand up and tell the governor where his place is.

IMAGE: Stalin with Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi.

That's why I earlier asked whether this incident helped the DMK government win public support.
Ultimately who is the winner, the DMK or the BJP or the governor?

The ultimate winner is the DMK. It has been able to bring out the fact that the governor is just a tool of the Centre.

People also know that Senthil Balaji and many other politicians are corrupt, and nobody said, withdraw the cases, withdraw ED. But the process must be respected.

The way in which the governor acted delegitimised the relevance of the office of the governor. Also, respectability.

He (Governor Ravi) acted the same way when he was the governor of Nagaland. You may know that he was not even given a farewell by the state government.

Because he was a meddling governor?

Many governors meddle with the state government, but you can't humiliate an elected government. He continues to do so in Tamil Nadu.

With the strong backing from the Centre, he keeps on meddling. In one way, this exposes the real face of the BJP.

Will the people of Tamil Nadu see the real face of the BJP?

Certainly. People know also. The real crisis in Tamil Nadu or for that matter in Kerala is that the Opposition parties are creating space for the BJP.

Even when people see the real face of the BJP, other parties are facilitating and keeping them alive in state politics. That's the real crisis.

IMAGE: Stalin presents a book to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi at the Opposition leaders' dinner meeting in Bengaluru, July 17, 2023 as Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, DMK MP T R Baalu and Congress leader and Karnataka Chief Minister D K Shivakumar look on. Photographs: ANI Photo

Do you think Stalin has come out stronger in front of the people of Tamil Nadu?

Certainly. The DMK has had its share of challenges and problems, but the general consensus among people is that it has come out much stronger after this incident.

The other states are also backing Tamil Nadu.

Also, the credibility of the office of the governors across the country is going down much faster.

On the other hand, the BJP is rewarding the most intrusive governors, like they elevated the governor of West Bengal as the Vice President.

By doing so, they are encouraging other governors to conduct themselves in a similar fashion.

Politically, what kind of impact will Senthil Balaji's arrest have on the 2024 elections?

The most important factor is the western districts, which Senthil Balaji looks after, will not have very capable hands to handle the 2024 election.

This is the real purpose behind the arrest, and it is not about controlling corruption.

It is like taking Amit Shah into custody before the 2024 elections. How will it affect the election machinery of the BJP? Similarly, the DMK will have a problem.

The clear strategy of the BJP is, it wants to keep Senthil Balaji out of election work.

He is very effective in election management particularly in the western districts of Tamil Nadu where the BJP has a semblance of mobilisation. So, they want to cut him off from those districts.

IMAGE: Dr Ramu Manivannan

Will it adversely affect the DMK?

It is expected to adversely affect the DMK. And the DMK knows this is the reason why the BJP wants to attack Senthil Balaji. So, the DMK will never sacrifice him.

It will defend him as there is a political price involved in this.

Politics is like a game of ping pong.

Is it advantage DMK right now?

It was able to keep the governor in check. Every time, the governor attacked, the DMK has been able to fight back.

Right now also, the governor has been pushed back.

So, it is advantage DMK despite being a chink in the armour.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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