BJP is fully aware of its limitations in Tamil Nadu – lack of a charismatic leader
Rajinikanth’s entry into politics comes as no surprise to many given that he has been
making noises since early this year.
For long Tamil Nadu’s political landscape has been plagued by anti-Hindu bias and
caste divisions. Rajini’s entry throws a spanner into the works of many political
formations in TN — mainstream and fringe, that continue to threaten India’s integrity
Without a doubt, Rajinikanth’s entry has shaken the very foundation of these parties that harbour secessionist tendencies
DMK and AIADMK, being seasoned campaigners, fully realize the threat to their vote
bank. They will deal with this through political means, including a potential merger once
Dr. Karunanidhi attains moksha.
When the “ideological anchor” for the division exits the scene – that is in the absence of
Karunanidhi, MGR and his heir Jayalalithaa, why be separate?
I anticipate the merger in the next few years (post-2019 though).
Other parties with a Dravidian tone are likely to merge with the Kazhagam’s in the longrun. In any case, Vijaykanth and Vaiko are one-person movements and have no future beyond their own political careers.
However, parties that see an opportunity by anchoring on Tamil secessionism such as
VCK or NTK face political extinction with the re-birth of spirituality in TN politics. Without a doubt, Rajinikanth’s entry has shaken the very foundation of these parties that harbour secessionist tendencies. This can be observed in their melt-down even prior to the announcement. Their vocal opposition to Rajini will only increase given the threat of a assembly election in 2018 is real.
Rajini’s party, make no mistake, is going to be a one-person party. He is 65 and at the most has a 10-year window to make a difference
Majority of the Tamilians are spiritual, religious and if I may add, a God-fearing lot.
The birthing of a movement anchored in spirituality is a blessing in disguise for the BJP
whose political ambitions in Tamil Nadu are well known. BJP is fully aware of its
limitations in Tamil Nadu – lack of a charismatic leader and ground crew required to build the party. This is the reason TN BJP was quick to welcome Rajinikanth into politics.
Here’s my perspective going forward.
BJP must clearly lay out short-term and long-term goals in Tamil Nadu. Its
understanding with Rajinikanth must be based on such goals. Short-term goals, without an iota of doubt, is in securing decent results in May 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
BJPs vote share in TN is in 2 to 3% range. With this vote bank, miracles cannot be
expected to happen in May 2019.
However, BJP has to find Lok Sabha seats in the south to balance potential losses from
UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat and MP. Expecting NaMo to pump up the vote bank to 15%
range is far-fetched.
This is where BJP must draw a leaf out of alliance politics co-authored by Indira Gandhi and MGR. BJP should negotiate for 2/3 Lok Sabha seats in TN while giving 2/3
Assembly seats to Rajinikanth’s party. Indira and MGR exhibited political maturity and practical sense in working out this arrangement in the 80s.
Notwithstanding what Rajini mentioned in his announcement regarding contesting all234 seats, it is possible for BJP to strike such a deal provided it negotiates with maturity and treats Rajinikanth with respect. This will help both parties in near term.
In addition, it is imperative for BJP to bank on some ideological moorings such as in the creation of a Ram-Sethu monument in Rameswaram, and in the development ofRameswaram-Ayodhya heritage corridor. This will energize the population all along the corridor and its vicinity and contribute to the much-needed vote share in TN and inneighboring states.
Long-term goals for the BJP is to grow from strength to strength. Rajini’s party, make no mistake, is going to be a one-person party. He is 65 and at the most has a 10-year window to make a difference. Besides, as years move on, Modi’s progress as a PM will be visible throughout India and will certainly have an impact on TN politics. BJP may be able to make a dent and occupy a pivotal space in TN politics when Rajinikanth exits the political scene in future.
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