PM leads BJP’s mega push in South India; Amit Shah assures peace in Manipur | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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PM leads BJP’s mega push in South India; Amit Shah assures peace in Manipur

Apr 16, 2024 08:49 AM IST

The PM who has extensively toured south India, addressed rallies and public functions, said that the party’s legwork in the five states is not a recent phenomenon driven by electoral compulsions

Initiatives such as the Kashi Tamil Sangamam and announcement of the opening of Thiruvalluvar centres across the country are seen as an attempt to help the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to expand its footprint in the southern states, particularly Tamil Nadu.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets his supporters during a public meeting in Palakkad, Kerala on Monday. (BJP Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets his supporters during a public meeting in Palakkad, Kerala on Monday. (BJP Photo)

On Sunday, while releasing the party’s election manifesto, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the government’s intent to open centres to promote Tamil globally. He referred to Tamil as the “oldest language and our pride”. As the party chases the target of winning over 400 out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats as part of the NDA alliance, the BJP is making concerted efforts to increase its vote share in the five southern states and translate them into seats.

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The PM who has extensively toured the region, addressed rallies and public functions, told ANI in an interview that the party’s legwork in the five states is not a recent phenomenon driven by electoral compulsions.

“I would say that five generations of our party, from the Jana Sangh, have been working there. So, continuous work has been going on,” he said.

While the BJP has been in power in Karnataka, electoral success has eluded it in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

There has been a perception that the BJP has not been able to emerge as an alternative to the regional satraps. But the PM attributed the growth of the regional parties to the failure of Congress to address issues and expressed confidence that the BJP would be the preferred option in the upcoming polls.

“When people were disappointed with the Congress, they went towards regional parties. Now, people are disappointed with these parties as well. In this atmosphere of disappointment, they saw the model of the BJP government in Delhi. They saw the model of the BJP government in other states in India. The Tamils who live across the country went to their homes and said, ‘this is happening in the state where we live’. So, people naturally started to compare that these people are doing good work,” he said.

He also attacked the DMK in Tamil Nadu for perpetrating a north-south divide, and said an impression had been created that the BJP is a predominantly a North Indian entity. Initiatives such as the Tamil Kashi Sangamam, he said, helped people shed these biases.

“This caused a change of thought. And because of that, a lot of anger has arisen against the DMK. That anger is diverting towards the BJP in a positive way,” he said.

Assuring peace in Manipur

The BJP, which has been facing criticism from its political opponents for not being able to restore normalcy in the northeastern state, is hoping that months of violence in the region will not affect its electoral fortunes. On Monday, Union home minister Amit Shah was in the state to address a rally where he asserted that the priority of the next government at the Centre under PM Modi would be to restore peace.

Shah said the Lok Sabha election is a contest between forces trying to break Manipur and those keeping it united.

The opposition has trained its guns on the Prime Minister for not visiting the state, but Shah blamed the Congress for failing to meet the aspirations of the people when it was in power.

Ethnic clashes between the Meiteis, who are dominant in the Imphal Valley, and the Kukis, who are in majority in some hill districts, since May last year has kept the state on the boil.

“There was no development in Manipur during the Congress rule in the past. In the last six years, the BJP-led government in the state tried to change that, but one incident of ethnic clashes took place. I want to assure all that in the coming days, we will talk to all sides and establish peace without compromising on the state’s integrity,” Shah said.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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