PM Modi's Strategic Push In Tamil Nadu: Can BJP Overcome Historic Challenges?

PM Modi's Strategic Push In Tamil Nadu: Can BJP Overcome Historic Challenges?

The party has taken a big gamble fielding Tamilisai Soundararajan, former Governor of Telangana and Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, to take on the DMK MP Sumathi alias Tamizhachi Thangapandian.

N ChithraUpdated: Tuesday, April 09, 2024, 10:58 AM IST
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With multiple opinion polls suggesting an improved vote share for the BJP in Tamil Nadu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leaving no stone unturned hoping for value addition to his mission 'Ab KiBaar, 400 Paar' from a state that has rejected him over the past decade in two Lok Sabha elections.

After having made half a dozen visits to the Dravidian heartland over the past couple of months, criss-crossing topographies across regions, Modi will be back in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday for a two-day visit. In his second visit to the state capital in a month, he will hold a road-show in T Nagar, a central business district of Chennai, a retail shopping hub.

Modi's chosen route for a roadshow on the Telugu New Year day, a closed holiday, falls within the Chennai South constituency. The party has taken a big gamble fielding Tamilisai Soundararajan, former Governor of Telangana and Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, to take on the DMK MP Sumathi alias Tamizhachi Thangapandian. The latter has been restrained in her campaign so far due to a fractured leg. The other key contender hereis former AIADMK MP Jayavardhan.

Initially, observers wrote off Tamilisai even sympathising with her for resigning as governor to fight a losing battle. Surprisingly, she has emerged as a dark horse unwilling to be a pushover. In the past fortnight, her outreach has resonated well with the common man thanks to her down-to-earth approach.

Daughter of veteran Congressman Kumari Ananthan, Tamilisai, belonging to the OBC Nadar community, is on the ground winning over sections of voters beyond the BJP's traditional Brahmin supporters in the constituency. Modi's roadshow is an attempt to galvanise the voters further hoping for a miracle victory for her, given that the DMK candidate benefits from the strength of alliance arithmetic. From there, Modi would move 140 km north to Vellore on Wednesday for a second roadshow before heading to Coimbatore for a public meeting.

In Vellore, the gap is narrowing between DMK MP Kathir Anand and BJP's AC Shanmugham, a resourceful owner of numerous higher education institutions. Political observer Mani compares this situation with 1989 Tamil Nadu Assembly election held after the death of MGR when his party AIADMK had split losing its 'Two Leaves' symbol.

“Back then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had toured Tamil Nadu a dozen times hoping to emerge as the second largest party after the DMK. However, the Congress got 27 seats and came behind the AIADMK Jayalalithaa faction. No doubt Modi's multiple campaigns will galvanise the BJP but the real game is not easy,” he said.

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