In a major setback to Kamal Hassan’s Tamil Nadu based party Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), three Lok Sabha candidates fielded by the party have jumped the ship and have officially joined the BJP. The three candidates who had been fielded during the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year have been identified as- Rajendran who was fielded as MNM’s Arakonnam candidate, Srikarunya who had contested from Krishnagiri constituency and Ravi who had fought from Chidambaram constituency, during the Lok Sabha polls held earlier this year.
Speaking about this development, a senior MNM leader said, “We are a young party of Tamil Nadu and we have so many people. Our party’s strength is our leader, Kamal Hassan, and the belief the youngsters have in our party. We have to introspect why the three-party members joined the BJP at the same time. We are not sure if they were unhappy for not given a post within the party.”
This development not only comes as a major setback for Kamal Hassan’s party, but also as a much-needed impetus to the BJP in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is pertinent to mention here that while BJP has witnessed immense growth in its presence throughout the length and breadth of the country since 2014, Tamil Nadu remains one of those states where the BJP is a virtual non-player. The BJP, However, with four leaders of the Kamal Hassan-led party jumping the ship and joining the BJP, it is clear that the BJP might finally be able to make an entry on the political landscape of Tamil Nadu. Moreover, after the Lok Sabha poll results in which NDA ally AIADMK won only one seat, it became clear that the AIADMK has lost its mojo after the demise of Jayalalithaa, and the BJP will have to formulate an effective political strategy for itself.
What is important to mention here is the fact that the BJP has not been able to make any inroads in Tamil Nadu primarily due to a strong misconception about imposition of Hindi language by the BJP. Local leaders like DMK President MK Stalin have been at the forefront of a misinformation campaign that the BJP is pursuing the agenda of Hindi imposition. However, recent events make it crystal clear that the BJP and PM Modi have been effectively dispelling this myth. During his UNGA address earlier this year, PM Modi called Tamil the oldest language of the world and even quoted a Tamil text- ‘Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir’ which means, ‘We harbor a feeling of kinship for all places and all people are our own,’ written by an iconic 3000-year old legendary Indian poet, Kaniyan Pungundranar.
In fact, PM Modi has been making tireless to bring Tamil Nadu into international focus. He has been trying to promote the Tamil culture in an unprecedented manner. This became further clear after he hosted the Chinese President, Xi Jinping at Mamallapuram, an ancient town that shares historic links with China.
Only recently, PM Modi released a Thai translation of the Tamil classic, ‘Tirukkural’ while addressing the Indian diaspora at the ‘Swasdee PM Modi’ event at Bangkok, Thailand. Such moves are likely to water down Tamil anti-BJP feelings, which has been instilled by the local leadership’s misinformation campaign about apprehensions of Hindi imposition, in the long run. PM Modi’s outreach to Tamil Nadu and attempts to open up the state for global recognition is at the center of BJP’s political strategy in Tamil Nadu. The fact that three members of the Kamal Hassan led MNM have chosen BJP over other regional players in the state shows that PM Modi’s efforts to bring Tamil Nadu in global attention, are yielding rich political dividends for the BJP. It seems that the state of Tamil Nadu is no longer going to remain elusive for the BJP.