BJP leader CT Ravi said people who are against the BJP's ideology, and political opponents are deliberately creating a negative narrative about the party(Twitter/CTRavi_BJP)
BJP leader CT Ravi said people who are against the BJP's ideology, and political opponents are deliberately creating a negative narrative about the party(Twitter/CTRavi_BJP)

‘Our aim is to develop BJP across TN, not just one region or caste’: CT Ravi

  • Tamil people love Modi-ji. Modi-ji also cares about Tamil makkal (people). Once we are able to convert that faith into votes, our party will emerge, says CT Ravi
By Divya Chandrababu, Hindustan Times, Chennai
UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2021 11:51 AM IST

CT Ravi, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s national general secretary and in-charge of Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra, says the party hasn’t established itself in the southern state for lack of a mass leader. The BJP, which currently doesn’t have an MP or MLA in Tamil Nadu, is hoping to forge a common minimum programme with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and enter the assembly with double digits after the state elections due in April-May, Ravi said in an interview with Divya Chandrababu. Edited excerpts:

What are the regions you’re focusing on in Tamil Nadu?

We have organised into six regions-- we are focusing on all six regions. We do not have only a short-term goal. We have a long-term goal. We are trying to develop our party pan-Tamil Nadu -- not one region, one caste. We are strengthening our party from the booth level. We have constituted 48,000 booth committees now out of 70,000.

How long did it take to scale up to 48,000 booth committees?

It was there in paper but we have activated booth committees now. We’ll try to develop 70,000 booth committees. Now hundreds of newcomers are there. Because of that, our vetrivel yatra (victorious spear march) and namma ooru Pongal festival (our town’s Pongal) was a success. Public response was good. We tried to bring out the local issues. Long-pending issues are there. Some areas have water crises. Now our party is a cadre-based party. Once we are able to convert into a mass party, it will be easier to get power.

You are trying to transform into a mass party by taking on civic and development issues?

Yeah, civic, development issues. Same time emotional issues. Tamil issues.

Among your short-term goals, how many seats do you expect to contest?

... We will be satisfied with how many seats we get. Our intention is for the AIADMK-headed (alliance) to regain power. Our party will go to the assembly with minimum double digits.

Once you have members in the assembly, would you pitch for a coalition government?

That time will decide, but AIADMK are our NDA {National Democratic Alliance} partners.

Would you bring in a common minimum programme like the NDA has in other states?

Yeah. We will have our own manifesto and NDA manifesto. But they are our major partners; we’ll talk with them and decide. We are focussing on development and Tamil issues. {Prime Minister Narendra} Modi-ji has given more than 6,10,000 across Tamil Nadu, directly benefiting 16 million Tamil Nadu people. EPS (chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami) is also doing good. We’ll focus on development, Tamil culture...and democratic values. You know DMK {Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam} doesn’t have values. They’re an undemocratic and family welfare party.

So what is your assessment of why the BJP has not been able to make a mark in Tamil Nadu?

AIADMK and DMK both are...both were strong. We do not have a strong mass leader. Now our leaders are emerging. You know in Tripura we got 1.5% in 2013, now we are in power. West Bengal- we were in the fifth position, now we are an alternative party; we’ll come to power. Telangana, when assembly elections happen, no doubt BJP will come to power. Tamil people love Modi-ji. Modi-ji also cares about Tamil makkal (people). Once we are able to convert that faith into votes, our party will emerge.

Who are the emerging leaders for BJP here?

The options are open. Whoever is doing good, they will emerge.

AIADMK and DMK have formed successive governments and BJP is viewed as a Hindi party...

That is made up by our political opponents. That is not true. We are a pan-India party; they’ve made allegations against BJP as an upper caste party, now as a north Indian party. We have democratic values. A common cadre is going to the highest level. Our PM came from a humble background, he was a common cadre and now he is No 1 leader. And so is our national president. Our home minister was booth committee president in 1982. It happens only in BJP. But who are DMK leaders? DNA will decide leadership in Congress, DMK and other parties. In our party, cadre will be the leader.

Palaniswami has also been saying the same thing during his campaign...

Palaniswami comes from a humble background. Now also he’s humble. He doesn’t want his family coming in to lead or dictate his own party. AIADMK also has some democratic values compared to DMK. Tamil Nadu state symbol is gopuram (temple entrance tower). But DMK people abused Lord Murugan. How can they rule Tamil Nadu? What is their Tamil culture? Is it Corruption? Family politics? Tamil culture is Thirukural, Kamba Ramayanam, Raja Raja Cholan legacy.

Both you and AIADMK have been saying you’re a cadre-based party. Now there is the {ousted party general secretary VK}. Sasikala faction which is saying she is the real AIADMK.

Both EPS and OPS (deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam) are seasoned politicians. They’re able to manage her. It is their internal issue.

But in case her loyalists go to her and NDA’s major partner is in trouble, won’t the BJP step in?

I think that won’t happen. They are intact. They will continue to be intact.

Coming to BJP’s long-term goal in TN...

You know we don’t have a single MP or MLA. But many political and non-political people have joined our party. That shows our party is strengthening. What Modi-ji has done for TN helps us. That will also build the party. Modi-ji has directly connected to Tamil Nadu people. The Congress government was showcasing Mughal tombs, but our Prime Minister showcased Mahabalipuram. When Congress-DMK was in power, they submitted an affidavit against jallikattu. But in 2016, BJP resubmitted an affidavit that it is not animal cruelty, but an animal sport and culture.

You’re saying BJP is misunderstood?

People who are against our ideology and political opponents are deliberately creating a negative narrative. But one day the truth will come out.

Is this election a springboard for 2026?

AIADMK is the major partner in Tamil Nadu. Our priority is for NDA to retain power. Long-term, we are an ideologically committed national party, we will build the party everywhere.

Your ultimate goal is for BJP to come on its own in TN.

Yeah. Our party is a national interest party and we want to protect Tamil interests. They’re trying to create a narrative that BJP is imposing Hindi. When Congress was in power, they imposed Hindi and there were anti-Hindi agitations led by DMK people. Seventy-four Tamil people died. DMK used that to come to power. But our party has introduced the National Education Policy (NEP). We have treated all 22 languages equally.

But your ally AIADMK has opposed the NEP’s three-language policy.

Even if a Delhi student wants to learn Tamil, they can learn now. Before that only state language, English and Hindi.

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