Muralidhar Rao says there is a natural connect between Modi and TN and people see BJP as a better alternative
At a time when the role of BJP in State politics and its chances of finding a toehold in the political landscape of Tamil Nadu is being debated, P. Muralidhar Rao, national general secretary of the party, who is in charge of Tamil Nadu, answers questions on the current political situation, his party contesting local body polls and its relationship with other major parties.
What is the BJP’s relationship with the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu now?
We are working independently. We don’t have any formal or informal alliance with either the AIADMK or any other party, other than our old allies.
After Jayalalithaa’s demise, a vacuum has come into the State’s politics. It is the problem of the AIADMK. As far as the AIADMK, even before Assembly elections or after that too, there is government-to-government cooperation and coordination at the Central level. Sometimes, based on issues, the cooperation has existed and now, it is continuing.
There has been speculation that you will find an ally to contest the upcoming local body elections with….
On the local body elections, we are very, very clear. The BJP is going to contest all the seats. We have prepared, our workers are active all over the State. Ultimately, the BJP is interested in spreading its base and grooming its leadership in the State. Local body elections become a very convenient avenue to create leadership at the grassroots level.
Won’t contesting against other parties damage the relationship with potential allies ahead of the Lok Sabha or Assembly elections?
I don’t see Assembly elections coming [soon]. I don’t think the situation has become so unstable that the government is not safe. There is an implicit message encoded in the mandate the voters and supporters of the AIADMK gave them for five years. That is, the DMK should not become the beneficiary. Any attempt within the AIADMK which benefits the DMK will be seen as anti-AIADMK and it goes against Jayalalithaa’s wishes. No leader in the AIADMK has the guts to ultimately cross that line. This has nothing to do with the BJP. As long as that is there, the problems of this government are temporary.
The AIADMK, then, seems to be in a trap of its own creation. Will it help the BJP?
It is not a trap, it is a strength. It is the sole reason of its sustenance. If someone in the AIADMK is seen as helping the DMK, gone. Gone for a six. Unless they are united, they cannot enjoy power. Do you think they have become saints? All AIADMK are on the path of renunciation? They are appearing as united because they can bargain this way. This is a game within the party. Every kind of situation we will utilise to reach out and convince the people that the BJP is more dependable in all aspects.
Do you think that this State government is unpopular?
I don’t think so. It is too early to say. When a powerful leader has suddenly disappeared and she could not decide who would be the leader, then there is a vacuum. Naturally, in a political party there will be some quarrels.. My opposition to the DMK is not unnatural. So, I feel the AIADMK should solve their problems and deliver on the mandate.
The Opposition has alleged that your party has been attempting to become influential in Tamil Nadu through the back door.
What back door? There is no attempt at imposing the President’s Rule. We have not removed the State government. The Governor is the Governor. What is a full-time Governor? Governor is there. If a [full-time] Governor was there, you would have said, “From front, back, left, right, 24 hours, he is doing the job of manipulation.” The Governor is available, he is functioning and the Governor is not seen as wanting. He is doing a good job, an impartial job.
How is the BJP different from other parties in Tamil Nadu?
I want to show that the BJP is nearer and more connected with Tirukkural and Tiruvalluvar. We are more attached than any other party to Tamil Nadu, linguistically and in terms of regional culture. In the last 50 years, other than family rule and corruption, what have they done for Tirukkural? Can they measure their governance on the scale of Tirukkural? We are now going to demonstrate, on the scale of Thirukkural, the BJP is the only party that can be measured.
All identity issues of Tamil Nadu are nearer to the BJP….dealing with Sri Lankan Tamilians — we have done well. More than 550 fishermen were killed when the LTTE was there, now there are no killings. People in jail were released. Every 15 days, there is an attempt to settle issues. Now, we are working on the long-term settlement of issues.
You claim that the BJP is the only party that is growing in Tamil Nadu. Are you happy with the rate of growth?
Here, now, the sky is the limit. It depends on the hard work and the capacity to articulate. People are receptive. The ideological positions on which the AIADMK and DMK were developed are no longer relevant. The DMK has come to be monopolised by a family. In Tamil Nadu, corruption and governance have become synonymous. Today, the connect between Narendra Modi ji and the people of Tamil Nadu is much more. They are able to see that the BJP can give better an alternative.