Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Puducherry on Thursday, exactly after three years. Prior to this visit, he had landed in the ‘Tamizh’ speaking state on 25 February 2018. This visit, however, comes with added significance and is officially indicates BJP sounding its poll bugle in Puducherry, particularly after the V Narayanasamy-led Congress government fell spectacularly in the state recently.
While visiting Puducherry, the Prime Minister will launch developmental projects worth roughly Rs. 3000 crores. Very interestingly, PM Modi will first land in Puducherry on Thursday morning, from where he will proceed for Tamil Nadu – perhaps a subtle indication of the times to come.
BJP is confidently entering the electoral battleground of Puducherry – which goes to polls along with the four states of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in April-May this year. Only earlier this week, the Gandhi prince, whose party was stripped off power in Puducherry, had claimed that the politics of South India was much more refreshing than that witnessed in the North (where the BJP dominates). As such, Rahul Gandhi had taken to politically dividing North and South Indians, calling the choices of the latter group sounder and more matured.
However, PM Modi deciding to visit Puducherry just after the fall of the Congress government is a political sign as strong as it can get. Congress’ fortunes in Puducherry are over, and the BJP has arrived to take charge. Mind you, after Karnataka, Puducherry seems well poised to be BJP’s second gateway to South India. Congress is faced with an incredible anti-incumbency and a practical loss of leadership. Nobody seems to be willing to sail Congress’ boat in Puducherry any longer, and many local heavyweights have joined the BJP – which is quite telling about the direction in which political breezes are blowing in Puducherry.
The Congress rule of the past five years has been marred with misgovernance and corruption, epitomised best when the state is hit by frequent spates of natural calamities, sending day-to-day life in a tizzy, courtesy of the indifference with which the previous governments have ruled over the union territory. The misgovernance of the Congress party has frustrated the citizens of Puducherry to the extent that a fisherwoman took to complaining against former Chief Minister Narayanasamy while Rahul Gandhi was engaging with the community.
The fisherwoman complained that the Chief Minister did not even visit her family in the aftermath of a cyclone. “The Sea is like this only. Nobody gave as any support. Even him [CM Narayanasamy], did he visit us during cyclone aftermath?” she was heard saying. The translator, who was no less than the Chief Minister himself, against whom the fisherwoman was complaining, had the audacity of turning her complaint into praise for himself. CM Narayanasamy told Rahul Gandhi that the woman said, “During Cyclone Nivar, I [Chief Minister] came and visited the area, I gave her relief. That is what she is telling.”
Days later, Narayanasamy is no longer the Chief Minister, and he is definitely not returning to the post he was forced to quit after embarrassingly losing an already-slim majority in the assembly. However, Narayanasamy was never slated to be the Chief Minister. In fact, the mandate in 2016 was for Nammasivayam, whom the Congress had projected as the chief ministerial candidate back then. However, being the party of backstabbers that it is, Congress failed to follow through, and instead of Nammasivayam – the Gandhis airdropped their loyalist Narayansamy to take oath as the CM.
Now, it is the BJP that is projecting Nammasivayam as its chief ministerial face. “The person, who was projected by the Congress for the Chief Minister’s post during the last polls, will be projected by us this time. Unlike the Congress, we will keep our word,” nominated legislator and BJP Puducherry President V. Saminathan said earlier this month. BJP is also armed with a number of other political heavyweights as it begins its campaign for the assembly polls with a blockbuster rally by none other than PM Modi.
Make no mistake, PM Modi is eyeing Puducherry for a multiplicity of strategic reasons. A BJP victory in the fellow Tamizh-speaking state will help the party lay down a governance model for the region so spectacular, that Tamil Nadu’s politics too will be incredibly galvanised in BJP’s favour. Since 2014, it has been the BJP’s endeavour to become a pan-India party, in line with which the organisation has grown by leaps and bounds in the country’s East and Northeast, apart from making serious inroads in the South too. PM Modi’s visit to Puducherry is in line with the same vision of the BJP – aiming for political expansion in previously unchartered territories.
Clinching Puducherry in the upcoming elections is BJP’s prime motive. Not only will the same deflate widely-spread liberal propaganda of the party being that of those in the cow belt, but will also strengthen the BJP as an organisation in the South. Needless to say, the Congress’ era has already ended in Puducherry, and the sun is about to rise in BJP’s favour very soon. Like in any other election, Prime Minister Modi is going to be the pivot for the BJP’s Puducherry unit in the coming weeks.