In Kerala, the BJP is giving the jitters to the two major forces — Congress and the Left. But in Tamil Nadu, its rank and file rue the central leadership’s failure to forge alliances when it had the chance.
After the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP grouping, with close to 20% vote share, seemed like a serious contender. But assembly elections are a different ball game and the BJP was unable to hold onto its allies, who once contributed to growing the Modi wave.
The BJP began with great promise. In April, BJP president Amit Shah asked people to throw out the AIADMK, which it called the most corrupt government, and give the NDA a chance.
“But all the advantage of the Lok Sabha polls has been blown away by the BJP leadership. Anyway the party is not much of a force here,” said Prof Ramu Manivannan of the Madras University.
But what has irked the voters of Tamil Nadu is that the BJP is talking exactly like Congress once did: “We are at the centre and we can do this for Tamil Nadu.”
“The central government has failed Tamil Nadu on Jallikattu, Tamil fishermen and even on the Cauvery waters, the issues that concern the people,” said a private sector employee, S Anand, in South Coimbatore.
Now, Dravidian parties have snubbed the BJP in alliance formation and the caste mobilisation approach did not work, said Prof Manivannan.
A Coimbatore-based political analyst said the strategy of maintaining distance from the two Dravidian parties was sound. But after Jayalalithaa’s conviction and subsequent release on bail, finance minister Arun Jaitley meeting with her sent confusing signals.
“Their compulsion in Rajya Sabha could be the reason, but for its perceived closeness to Jayalalithaa put paid to its efforts to grow in the state,” said the analyst.
At best, the BJP may win one or two seats in the state, opine psephologists.