9 Apr 2024

PM Modi's Tamil Nadu Mission: Can BJP Overcome Historical Hurdles?

With numerous polls indicating a surge in BJP's vote share in Tamil Nadu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is sparing no effort in seeking to augment his 'Ab Ki Baar, 400 Paar' mission from a state that has consistently rejected BJP in the past decade's two Lok Sabha elections.

After conducting half a dozen visits to the Dravidian heartland over recent months, traversing diverse landscapes, Modi is poised for another two-day stint in Tamil Nadu, commencing Tuesday. This return to the state capital marks his second visit in a month, featuring a road-show in T Nagar, the bustling commercial nucleus of Chennai.

Opting for a road-show route on the Telugu New Year, a holiday, strategically falls within the Chennai South constituency. 

The BJP has taken a bold step by nominating Tamilisai Soundararajan, former Governor of Telangana and Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, to contend against DMK's MP Sumathi alias Tamizhachi Thangapandian. Thangapandian, constrained by a leg injury, has maintained a subdued campaign, with former AIADMK MP Jayavardhan being another significant contender.

Initially dismissed by observers, Tamilisai, daughter of veteran Congressman Kumari Ananthan and hailing from the OBC Nadar community, has defied expectations, garnering support beyond BJP's traditional Brahmin base through her grassroots engagement.

Modi's road-show aims to further energize voters

Modi's road-show aims to further energize voters, fostering hopes for an unexpected victory for Tamilisai, notwithstanding the DMK candidate's alliance advantage. Following this, Modi plans to traverse 140 km north to Vellore for a second road-show before concluding his visit with a public meeting in Coimbatore.

In Vellore, the contest between DMK's MP Kathir Anand and BJP's AC Shanmugham, a prominent figure with numerous educational institutions, is intensifying. Political analysts liken this scenario to the 1989 Tamil Nadu Assembly election post MGR's demise, where despite numerous tours by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Congress failed to emerge as the second-largest party, trailing behind the AIADMK Jayalalithaa faction.

While Modi's extensive campaigning may invigorate BJP, the true challenge lies ahead.

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