Chennai: With barely a few days to go for polling in the Lok Sabha election in Tamil Nadu, leaders of the BJP, particularly Union Ministers, are putting the AIADMK, their principal ally in Tamil Nadu, in a politically embarrassing position making unpopular comments. While the ground mood is against certain central schemes, Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Nitin Gadkari have made statements insisting that two unpopular subjects – the NEET for medical admissions and the eight lane expressway between Salem and Chennai – will be implemented if the Narendra Modi Government retained power.
In Tamil Nadu, there has been widespread anger directed at the BJP, thanks to a sustained campaign launched by the opposition parties and fringe Tamil nationalist groups portraying the national party as “anti-Tamil”. Among the issues that had triggered an anti-BJP political discourse were the conduct of the NEET and launching of the Salem-Chennai that required acquisition of farm lands on a massive scale. Recently, the Madras High Court had stayed acquisition of land for the Salem-Chennai corridor as environmental clearance was not obtained for it. The court order was welcomed by farmers who uprooted mark stones kept by government surveys and burst crackers.
However, campaigning for an AIADMK candidate in Salem, Gadkari declared: “The Chennai-Salem green corridor is the most important development project related to Salem.” He said the project will be implemented in discussion with farmers.
This led to protests by groups of farmers in Salem and Dharmapuri. While the AIADMK has backed the project, momentarily claiming that the government was duty bound to implement the court order, the PMK, another ally of the BJP was among the petitioners who challenged the project. But on Sunday both Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and PMK founder S Ramadoss, who accompanied Gadkari, remained silent.
Likewise, while the AIADMK has said that it will urge the Centre to give up the NEET, Piyush Goyal on Friday last insisted that the NEET will not be implemented by the AIADMK would be convinced about its need. His statement came on a day when Congress president Rahul Gandhi at an election meeting in Tamil Nadu recalled the death of a Dalit girl Anitha on account of poor scores in NEET, declared that his party will not enforce NEET and leave it to the State Governments to decide.