As a chopper settles in a dusty patch of land in blazing sun, a handful of dhoti-clad men holding BJP flags crowd to welcome BJP president Nitin Gadkari.
Once on stage, Gadkari sees more people have gathered to hear him. With a translator at hand, the BJP chief begins in English with an SMS joke: Narendra Modi says Gujarat will become Singapore in five years, Karunanidhi says he will buy up Singapore if he gets another five years.
Crowd laps it up, as Gadkari quickly launches a broadside on the DMK’s first family, which appears to goes down well. “How many family members he has I do not know. But they are all doing well…”
Gadkari, is not the only BJP leader who has come to Tamil Nadu. The entire top hierarchy —LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj, Narendra Modi, Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley — have joined the show to send out a signal that it’s serious business here. The BJP is not minicing words in attacking the DMK, which was once its ally.
Undeterred by the fact that Ramanathapuram is one of the districts under direct charge of Union minister M K Alagiri and the AIADMK’s stakes are high too, the BJP has put a local Thevar leader. The party is counting on local factors to work in its favour.
Gadkari tells his partymen, “You have worked hard…even if we win two or three seats or six in the best of the situation, the BJP would have made its mark. That will be our beginning.” The BJP has fielded candidates in 34 constituencies and Subramanian Swamy’s Janata Party is contesting on the BJP symbol.
Gadkari said the poll was “not an election for deciding future of DMK, AIADMK, BJP or Congress, but is to decide the fate of the people.”
In a bid to showcase development in Gujarat and other BJP-ruled states as his party’s USP, Gadkari said, “If you want a developed state, you should seek an alternate government. For a north-based party, which has never been taken seriously by other parties, the BJP may be ploughing a lonely path. But its workers see the battle seriously.