BJP's Hunt For Tamil Nadu Allies In Focus As PM Makes 4th Visit

The PM's visit also comes as his BJP remains without a major alliance partner in a state dominated by the DMK and AIADMK, the latter of which was an NDA member.

PM Modi is scheduled to address a rally in Chennai on Monday evening (File).


The Bharatiya Janata Party's Tamil Nadu unit went into a huddle Monday ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally in Chennai later today. This is the Prime Minister's fourth visit - in the past three months - to the southern state - one in which the BJP has traditionally struggled for traction.

The PM's visit also comes as his BJP remains without a major alliance partner in a state dominated by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam; the AIADMK was an ally and member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance till it walked out in September.

A senior BJP leader told NDTV the PM will be briefed on the "alliance status in the state".

The BJP has a negligible - less than three per cent - vote share in Tamil Nadu.

As of now, only GK Vasan's Tamil Manila Congress has joined the NDA.

The BJP is working on persuading S Ramadoss' Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam founded by the late actor-politician Vijayakanth, as well as Dr K Krishnasamy's Puthiya Thamizhagam. There may, though, be some bad news on this front.

Sources said these parties are "inching to the AIADMK" but nothing has been confirmed so far.

The BJP, meanwhile, has not yet given up hope its former ally will make a U-turn.

The AIADMK dumped the BJP after its state boss K Annamalai repeatedly criticised leaders, including the late ex-chief ministers CN Annadurai and MG Ramachandran. Mr Annadurai was the mentor of Mr Ramachandran, who founded the AIADMK based on the former's ideals.

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Last week, in what was seen as an olive branch, the PM used photos of MG Ramachandran and his political heir, the late former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, for campaign material.

The move, however, was not well received; the AIADMK called it "cheap politics". "We are clear... no return to NDA. They are spreading fake news," the AIADMK's D Jayakumar said

Meanwhile, the BJP's state unit today commenced the process of selecting candidates for the election. It is unclear if Mr Annamalai - tasked with ensuring his seven-month march through the state's 234 Assembly constituencies - revive his party's fortunes in the state - will be given a ticket.

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"When it began, it was a BJP-led padayatra. But when it concluded it was a people's movement."

Union Minister L Murugan, who hails from the state, has been given a second term as a Rajya Sabha MP; he will continue to represent the Hindi heartland state of Madhya Pradesh for a second time.

READ | In Tamil Nadu, BJP's "Field Nirmala Sitharaman" Dare From AIADMK

The BJP has been thrown a direct challenge by the AIADMK - "... field union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and S Jaishankar from any constituency for upcoming general election... ".

Ms Sitharaman and Mr Jaishankar are currently Rajya Sabha MPs from Karnataka and Gujarat, and there is no indication they will be fielded in this Lok Sabha election.

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A first list of over 100 names has been released, and includes the PM and Home Minister Amit Shah.

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