Home Minister Amit Shah arrived in Chennai on Saturday amid heavy security deployment for a short visit that will see him meeting with party officials and inaugurating a slew of projects. He is visiting the state after more than a year, and visuals showed the BJP leader being welcomed in Chennai by cheering crowds.
Even before it could begin however, criticism and controversy had erupted. A section of Twitter has, since yesterday been trending the hashtag, "GoBackAmitShah" with hundreds of critical comments being posted. There was also a counter trend that attempted to welcome Shah to Tamil Nadu. Shah's visit, assumes greater significance, coming as it does ahead of the May 2021 Assembly elections in the state. While the party does not have a massive presence in the southern state, there may soon be a few changes when it comes to membership. Reports suggest that suspended MP KP Ramalingam has joined the BJP and might meet with Shah during his visit. According to some reports, Ramalingam who is an MK Alagiri loyalist appeared to suggest that the other leader too might join with the BJP.
Despite the criticism online, Shah was welcomed warmly upon reaching Chennai. In a video that was shared by news agency ANI, he can be seen waving to a cheering crowd that had thronged to the side of the road.
He was received from the airport by Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam and other ministers. Tamil Nadu BJP party leaders also received Shah at the airport.
During the day Shah will lay the lay the foundation stone for a new water reservoir in Chennai. He will also lay the foundation stones of Phase II of Chennai Metro Rail with an outlay of Rs 61,843 crore; Rs 1,620 crore elevated expressway project in Coimbatore; expansion of Chennai Trade Centre (Rs 309 crore); Indian Oil Corporation's petroleum terminal at Vallur (Rs 900 crore); Rs 1,400 crore lube plant; Rs 900 crore terminal at Kamarajar Port; and Rs 406 crore check dam with sluice gates across the Cauvery river in Karur district.
Shah will meet Tamil Nadu BJP office-bearers and cadres to galvanise them ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls. His visit comes close on the heels of NDA's electoral victory in Bihar Assembly elections. Tamil Nadu BJP unit chief L. Murugan had earlier claimed that Shah's visit will put fear in the minds of opposition parties.
(With inputs from agencies)