iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 01, 2014
The BJP's ability to win over new allies highlighting its prime minister candidate Narendra Modi will taste its first success when a few parties in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The first expansion of the NDA after Nitish Kumar-led JD(U)’s exit in July is expected mid-January, which marks the festivities of Pongal and Sankranti in the two southern states.

Vaiko-led MDMK and S Ramadoss-led PMK in Tamil Nadu and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh are set to join the NDA.

The BJP also hopes it will successfully woo Tamil actor-turned politician Vijayakanth, who leads the DMDK and is assiduously being wooed by the Congress and the DMK too.

To try its luck in coastal areas, the saffron party finally decided to stay hitched to the TDP led by Chandrababu Naidu than with Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh.  Naidu was with the NDA till 2004.

Senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu, who is keen for a tie-up with the TDP, is counting on some Union ministers from Seemandhra region to contest under the BJP banner.

In Tamil Nadu, the PMK and the MDMK will formalise their decision to support Modi this week. Vaiko and Ramadoss concluded parleys with central BJP leaders a few days ago.

Vaiko confirmed that he had held talks with BJP leaders, saying his MDMK's main objectives were to remove the Congress-led government at the centre and also prevent formation of any other Congress-supported government.

According to Vaiko, support for the BJP was gaining and a "Modi wave" was visible across the country.

In fact, both Vaiko and Ramadoss had welcomed the BJP’s announcement of Modi as the PM candidate. While Vaiko has pockets of influence in southern Tamil Nadu, Ramadoss' party influence is over the Vanniyar community in northern part of the state.

Besides the MDMK and the PMK, the BJP hopes it could stitch a rainbow alliance by including regional outfits like Kongunadu Munnetra Kazhagam and Thevar Paervai.

The BJP's decision to leading a front of smaller parties came after Modi addressed a huge rally in Tiruchi in September. Its leaders decided against aligning with the DMK due to its image as a corrupt party. Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK made it clear that it was not keen for any alliance with a national party.

The saffron party eyes Kanyakumari, Coimbatore, Tiruchi, Tirupur and the Nilgiris Lok Sabha constituencies it had won in the 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha polls.

Already, BJP cadres are on village-to-village campaign called "Veeduthorum Modi, Ullamthorum Thamarai (Modi in every household and lotus in every heart)".

It seeks to highlight Modi’s achievements and corruption under the UPA.