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BJP rally in Chennai today as it looks to making inroads in Tamil Nadu politics

LiveMint logoLiveMint 07-08-2017 Dharani Thangavelu

Chennai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been attempting to strengthen its emaciated base in Tamil Nadu amid the unsettled political situation, will take out a rally in Chennai on Monday, demanding prohibition, civic polls and improvement of education in government-run schools.

According to the youth wing of the party, which is organizing the rally called the “March to the Fort”, referring to George Fort that houses the legislative assembly, it will be a “massive event” that will “disturb” the Edappadi K. Palaniswami-led government.

Head of BJP youth wing Poonam Mahajan and state youth wing chief Vinoj P. Selvam, among other leaders, are expected to participate in the rally.

This comes at a time when it is speculated that the BJP at the Centre is trying to make inroads in the southern state in the midst of the factional feud in the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

After the demise of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK has been split into AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) under former chief minister O. Panneerselvam and AIADMK (Amma) under chief minister Palaniswami. The party’s sidelined deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran has also been trying to establish his supremacy with the support of a few MLAs.

In between this chaos in the ruling party, the BJP has been attempting to play the role of a mediator. However, with Panneerselvam announcing a protest against the government on 10 August, the merger looks unlikely.

With Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan as the only MP from the state, the BJP, which recorded a mere 2.8% vote share in the assembly elections last year and doesn’t have a single MLA in the state assembly, has been trying to connect with the people of Tamil Nadu through its “Vistarak Yojana” programme.

BJP national president Amit Shah, who is scheduled to visit the state from 22 August, is expected to oversee the programme that was launched to enable party leaders to connect with party workers and interact with rural people.

In March this year, the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the highest decision making and policy formulation body of BJP’s ideological arm Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), conducted its annual meeting in Tamil Nadu for the first time in its 92-year-old history. This was seen as a major attempt by the Sangh to aid BJP in establishing a footprint among the Dravidian parties.

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