Narendra Modi drew an impressive crowd - by far the biggest ever attracted by the BJP in Tamil Nadu - as he made his first political foray in the southern state as prime minister candidate on Thursday.
But he steered a careful course, avoiding any mention of Jayalalithaa's AIADMK or its opponent DMK, indicating that the BJP intended to plough alone in the state where alliances are key to winning any of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
In fact, one speaker before Modi at the Tiruchirapalli rally made it clear that the BJP's aim was to motivate the youth to look for an alternative in his party as an "emerging patriotic and nationalist political formation" in the state, which has remained a stranglehold of the Dravidian parties for a long time.
Modi asked people to throw out the "weak, inept and indifferent" government at the centre. Then, he went on to ask if the prime minister ought to be talking with Pakistan when militants were killing "our jawans and policemen in Jammu and Kashmir."
The crowds responsded with resounding no.
"Prime minister, BJP or I am not saying it. This is the voice of Tamils in Tamil Nadu," Modi said. He also took the government to task for showing weakness to such an extent that every neighbour took India for granted.
AIADMK leaders said they were a bit disappointed that Modi made no mention of Jayalalithaa's style of governance and its impact on Tamil Nadu's growth in recent years even though he enjoys personal rapport with her.
But the DMK ones were "relieved" that he did not attack them for the 2G spectrum scam in which their minister got involved as a partner of the UPA government at the centre.
The response of the crowds, comparable in size and enthusiasm to the ones that Jayalalithaa attracted for her campaign in the 2011 polls at the same G Circle grounds, adjacent to the Tiruchirapalli-Chennai highway) enthused and emboldened BJP district leaders.
They claimed the BJP could even win 10 seats on their own steam with the help of smaller regional parties.
"We would rather have an understanding with DMDK of Captian Vijayakanth, Vaiko’s MDMK and PMK of Ramadoss rather than go with a big Dravidian party like the AIADMK," said D Mohandas, a Vellore district level office bearer, reflecting the mood of many workers after Modi's speech.
State BJP president Pon Radhakrishan almost echoed the sentiments of the cadres by saying "this meeting will be a turning point in the state's political history and take it back to the national mainstream".
Earlier, addressing the 60th birthday celebrations of renowned spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi aka Amma at her ashram in Kollam (south Kerala), Modi spoke in Malayalam for more than five minutes.
Among the speakers on the occasion were Philipose Mar Chrysostom, senior metropolitan bishop of Mar Thoma Church, Mohammed Masthan Khalifa Sahib, high priest of Nagore Dargah, Swami Prakashananda, president of Sivagiri Math and Nobel laureate Dr Leland H Hartwell.
"Now there is a talk of inclusive growth. But this is nothing new for India. This has been the message given by our sages since ages," he said.
The spiritual strength of the country can be of real use if its population practised the principles highlighted in the ancient texts and scriptures of the country.
On the occasion he also unveiled prototypes and technological devices made by various education and research institutions run by Amritanandamayi mutt.