Gujarat chief Minister Narendra Modi remembered to bring some prasad from Kerala’s Guruvayoor Temple for AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa, who in turn served him a delicious 43 course lunch which included ‘Sakarai Pongal’ (rice made with jaggery and ghee) on Monday afternoon.
These apart, the more-than-two-hour luncheon between the two, in the presence of BJP General Secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad, marked the revival of the AIADMK’s alliance with the BJP. “Of course we did discuss wide ranging which included state and national politics,” Prasad said, without elaborating.
But the signals are loud and clear that Jayalalithaa, after falling out with the BJP over the arrest of the Kanchi Sankaracharya in late 2004, is all set to jump on to the Hindutva bandwagon. In 2007 she had already indicated twice about her drift towards the BJP. First she backed the Sangh Parivar’s agitation to protect the Ram Sethu and subsequently, in spite of being part of the UNPA, she asked her party MLAs and MPs to vote for the BJP’s presidential nominee Bhairon Singh Shekawat.
Later, she distanced herself from the UNPA and a possible third front enthused by the BJP’s strong showing in Gujarat and Himachal. Though the BJP may not have a significant presence in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa is confident that anti-incumbency, which cost her and the BJP dearly in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, could spell trouble for the DMK-led alliance in the state this time around.
“The AIADMK is our natural ally in the state and Jayalalithaa was the first Tamil leader to strike an alliance with us in 1998. Our alliance might not have worked in 2004 but for the next Lok Sabha election cadres of both the BJP and AIADMK feel they should work together to defeat the DMK,” said a senior BJP state functionary.
With Modi emerging as the BJP’s brand ambassador, Jayalalithaa was quick to make use of his visit to Chennai to participate in Thuglak magazine’s 37th anniversary. While a horde of political parties organised protests against Modi’s visit, Jayalalithaa chose to host the Gujarat strongman.
In 2004, she had declared BJP as her ally as she was against a foreigner becoming prime minister. In 2009, though Advani is the BJP’s official candidate for the PM’s post, Modi can count on Jaya’s support if there are second thoughts in the NDA about Advani’s candidature. Monday’s Pongal lunch would then be recalled as the pointer.