To lure voters in south, BJP cashes in on ‘watchdog’ role
Fighting the tag of an ‘outsider’, the BJP is asking for votes in Tamil Nadu and Kerala not to form governments— but to play the role of an effective opposition. Shekhar Iyer reports.india Updated: Apr 06, 2011 11:18 IST
Fighting the tag of an ‘outsider’, the BJP is asking for votes in Tamil Nadu and Kerala not to form governments— but to play the role of an effective opposition.
But why should people vote for an opposition? “The people already know what the BJP is doing as the main opposition party at the national level. We are asking for an opportunity to play this role in states as well,” Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday.
“We know we aren’t so strong in these states as yet to ask for votes to form governments,” said Swaraj, who is directing the party’s strategy in the two states. “Our USP is that, as an opposition party, we are a good watchdog when the ruling party is supposed to govern.”
Rattling off the BJP’s campaign slogans in Tamil and Malayalam, Swaraj said, “We are telling people we will fight for you…we will raise your issues…and, as we gain their confidence in the years ahead, the BJP will seek their mandate to govern.”
Earlier, she had employed her dexterity with Kannada to woo voters in Karnataka, Swaraj recalled even as she dismissed the accusation of the Dravidian parties that the BJP was a party of Hindi-wallahs. “After our first government in Karnataka, we are not outsiders in the south.” In Kerala, the BJP was reaching out to influential Nair Service Society (NSS) and Ezhava-based SNDP to back its candidates.
“The issue we are highlighting is why 3 million Keralites have been forced to seek employment outside their state and another 3 million outside India?,” she said.
In Tamil Nadu, she said, “We are raising issues like the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian fishermen.” Swaraj pointed to her role in meeting the families of fishermen in Nagapattinam and then taking up the issue with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna. Swaraj said the people of Tamil Nadu would be looking for an alternative beyond the DMK, Congress and the AIADMK.
“Similarly, we want to fill an opposition space in Kerala where the choice is limited to Congress-led UDF and the Left-led LDF,” said Swaraj.