'Earlier it was seen just here and there in Tamil Nadu; today it is everywhere’: exclaimed a pro-DMK panellist during a TV channel discussion on BJP’s Vetri Vel Yatra, referring to the conspicuous presence of BJP in the state. That seems to be one of the factors that rendered the DMK leadership jittery. It (the DMK leadership) took a decision to boycott those TV discussions wherein a BJP man/woman has been empanelled.
The DMK allies too were compelled to follow suit. 'Worse' to follow. Large numbers of DMK cadres were seen making a beeline to Kamalalayam, the state BJP headquarters seeking membership of the party. The biggest bunch was counted at 11,000 (eleven thousand) from one development block of Sivaganga district. "DMK and its allies single out Hindu society and Hindu religion for attack in their public utterances" - was the reason cited by those newcomers to BJP. That exactly is the purpose of the BJP's Vetri Vel Yatra (Vel is Tamil for spear, the weapon of Lord Murugan).
The yatra had sent out the message loud and clear. Not only to the anti-Hindu political groups. To the ruling AIADMK leadership - more importantly. An interesting state intelligence input to the state government (reported by Dinamalar on November 22) summed up the emerging scenario thus: "The response to the Vel Yatra signals state BJP as the contender to both AIADMK and DMK. BJP President L Murugan defied the refusal of permission for the yatra and was detained. Arrests of BJP protesters who hit the road in all districts condemning Murugan's arrest runs into thousands. On earlier occasions it used to be in hundreds (BJP sources put it as 44,000 on November 6 alone). Such a surge is due to the Sangh plan; accordingly, workers of Hindu organisations joined in the temple visits as part of Vel Yatra. The BJP has, in the meanwhile, decided upon its poll booth workers for all the 234 Assembly constituencies."
That perhaps explains why Chief Minister Edappadi Palani Sami rushed to the Chennai airport with the entire state cabinet in tow on November 21 to receive Union Home Minister Amit Shah (though protocol did not demand it). The HM was on a day's official visit to the city to inaugurate several projects.
At Kalaivaanar Arangam Hall, the venue of the official ceremony, it was a sight to see Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam voluntarily (it looked involuntary!) announcing that the 2019 Lok Sabha poll alliance of AIADMK with BJP continued. Though the fact remains that NDA's only honorable win was of AIADMK candidate Raveendranath, Panneerselvam’s son. But Chief Minister EPS (as PM Modi likes to address him) put the stamp on the OPS alliance declaration that the alliance would enable return of "Amma's rule" in the 2021 Assembly polls. This unilateral advance by AIADMK is unique in the sense the major constituent in the alliance should shower such love on BJP, the junior partner. Presence of Amit Shah, the master poll strategist, was cited as the reason. Later in the day, Amit Shah is reported to have told BJP karyakartas "leave the alliance concerns to seniors; concentrate on the mazbut booth". Precisely that was picked up for comment on November 25 by the Tamil edition of The Hindu; its report described it as BJP's "projected work up to emerge as the third force (after AIADMK and DMK) in 2021; next, to reach the second place and in 2026, the first place". With that end in view, the report goes on, BJP has adopted a strategy of positioning itself against DMK for now. So far, Assembly poll has always been an AIADMK vs DMK affair. Not anymore. Now it is BJP vs DMK. It is a shocking "ashcharya adhyayam" (surprising chapter) in the state politics, surmises the said The Hindu (Tamil) report and it credits Amit Shah visit for this turn of events.
BJP vs DMK? Yes. But it is not ashcharya nor simply political as is sought to be made out. This is nationalist as well as civilisational, what with DMK and its minions (VCK of Thirumavalavan, Karuppar Koottam, et al) spewing separatist venom all along, hurting Hindu sentiments with impunity. Hindu awakening built up by relentless efforts during the last three generations of Hindu karyakartas is having the effect at last, observers say. Period. The ongoing sampark abhiyan of Deiveega Tamizhaka Sangham to educate Tamils on matters like family system, benefits of NEP, fraudulent conversion, Love Jihad, changing demography, terrorism, etc., is yet another effort in getting them to aspire for joining the beneficial national mainstream.
** Sources in the state BJP say this: while 30% of Tamil youth go to fringe outfits, the remaining 70% no longer look to the ''biggies" like AIADMK or the DMK. They are turning to BJP that has delivered a corruptionless governance for a full term and stands rewarded for that. Such youth include those from both the Kazhagams. That explains why there is a big turnover of enthusiastic youth in Vel Yatra in district after district.
Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam voluntarily announcing that the 2019 Lok Sabha poll alliance of AIADMK with BJP continued. Chief Minister EPS put the stamp on the OPS alliance declaration that the alliance would enable return of ‘Amma's rule’ in the 2021 Assembly polls
** Eyebrows were raised when priests from several churches paid a visit to the BJP office and joined the party last week; the new thinking among the minorities is: 'After all, Modi sarkar benefits like cooking gas, sanitation, Jan Dhan, etc., are available to one and all without partiality or exclusion. Why should we allow us to be painted as anti Modi any more?' Same is the view of Muslim educationists who await their turn to join BJP in the state. The recent winning spree of BJP across a dozen states further spurs their inquisitiveness. Of course, the groundswell of support that Vel Yatra receives is there just before their eyes.
** The state BJP leaders caught the imagination of the public, when they called off the successful Vel Yatra and asked BJP workers to serve people hit by Nivar (the cyclone that wreaked havoc in half-a-dozen districts in the midnight of November 24-25).
(The author is a senior Chennai-based journalist)