‘I Want To Use More Firewood And Cook Faster’, Says Annamalai On He Being In A Hurry To Bring BJP To Power In Tamil Nadu

‘I Want To Use More Firewood And Cook Faster’, Says Annamalai On He Being In A Hurry To Bring BJP To Power In Tamil Nadu

by S Rajesh - Jan 28, 2023 11:16 AM +05:30 IST
‘I Want To Use More Firewood And Cook Faster’, Says Annamalai On He Being In A Hurry To Bring BJP To Power In Tamil NaduTamil Nadu BJP state president K Annamalai
Snapshot
  • Annamalai explained as to how a political vacuum in the state after the death of two larger than life leaders, i.e., M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalitha has created an opportunity for the BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi to capture the people’s imagination and rise to power in the state.

Speaking to Smita Prakash of Asian News International (ANI) on her podcast, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president K Annamalai, clearly laid out his vision for the party to come to power in Tamil Nadu.

He went deep into the history and nature of Tamil Nadu politics to explain where does the BJP fit in and why ‘now’ is the right time for BJP to capture power in the state.

Tamil Nadu Is Used To Larger-than-life Leaders

Annamalai said, “Tamil people have been seeing charismatic and mass leaders since the time of independence. During Congress' rule, it was C Rajagopalachari and Kamaraj. Later it was Annadurai, Karunanidhi, MG Ramachandran (MGR) and J Jayalalitha.

‘‘However, after the death of both Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha, there is no mass leader in the state and this has given the BJP an opportunity to rise.

‘‘Narendra Modi is the new mass leader and crowd puller. He is popular among women voters for the numerous schemes he has brought that directly and indirectly benefit women like the Ujjwala scheme and Har Ghar Nal Se Jal scheme.

‘‘Women are looking at Modiji as a replacement for Jayalalitha.’’

Narendra Modi Is No Longer Seen As An Outsider

Speaking about the anti-Central government narrative being spread by the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), he said that people cannot be fooled all the time.

‘‘While the DMK could successfully fool people during the 2019 Lok Sabha election and make people feel that the Congress was coming to power, it cannot do it again in 2024. Now everybody knows that Modiji is coming back to power in 2024.

‘‘Even tea stall vendors are asking me if it is true that Modi will contest from Ramanathapuram. People want Modiji to contest from Tamil Nadu. This rumour started after the Kashi Tamil Sangamam. No Prime Minister has done as much as Modiji for Tamil Nadu.’’

People In Tamil Nadu Take Time To Warm Up To Leaders

Giving the example of MGR, he said, ‘‘While the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) was formed by MGR in 1972, he could only come to power in 1977, i.e., five years after forming the party. MGR was extremely popular but even he had to wait for so long. However, once the people have warmed up to you, the sky is the limit.

‘‘Narendra Modi is in such a space now. People have seen him for nine years. The central government schemes have reached a maturity level. They have warmed up to him, especially the women voters.

‘‘So now is the time that Tamil Nadu BJP has to seize the opportunity to turn this positive sentiment into votes and send a good number of MPs in 2024.’’

Stalin’s 2021 Assembly Election Victory Is Not As Big As It Seems And Tamil Nadu Will Increasingly See Closely Fought Contests Unlike Sweeping Victories Of Earlier Times

‘‘In the earlier days, Tamil Nadu usually used to witness a sweep. The DMK or the AIADMK would get 150,160,180 seats and sweep the state but that era has ended with the death of Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha.

‘‘If you look at the 2021 Assembly elections, there was just a 2.1 per cent difference in the vote share of the DMK-led 12 party alliance and the AIADMK alliance.

‘‘In spite of being out of power for 10 years, the DMK couldn’t get a sweep with a huge margin unlike what was the norm before.

‘‘This is because people are seeing politicians as politicians and not as larger than life leaders or Gods and Goddesses.’’

Why Is This ‘A Now Or Never Moment’ For Tamil Nadu BJP?

‘‘Because now there is a vacuum in state politics and Modi’s popularity at the national level is at an all-time high. After 9 years of Modi rule, if we are not able to translate that popularity into votes in Tamil Nadu, when would we be able to do it?

‘‘We already missed the bus. In 2014, people thought Jayalalitha could play an important role in the Centre and voted for her. She had made the election as ‘Modi versus Lady.’ In 2019, the DMK successfully spun an anti-Modi narrative using NEET and Jallikattu etc.

‘‘But this time, I don’t think they will be able to do it. People have seen Gujarat. They will see Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan soon.

‘‘I have to be fast and aggressive, otherwise, we’ll miss this bus too. Timing is very important in politics, you miss the timing, you miss the chance for a long-long time. I don’t want to sit in a chair comfortably for 10 years and see when the next opportunity will come.

‘‘I would like to use more firewood and cook faster.’’

On Padayatra Plans

‘‘It is a means to take the message of the BJP to the grassroots. We are starting it one year before the Lok Sabha elections. During the padayatra, we expect fresh talent to join the party.

‘‘When Modiji came in 2014, we saw a lot of professionals come into politics. They all came new into politics. We want to generate the same spirit in Tamil Nadu.

“We are saying, it is alright if you are in the corporate sector and don’t want to join politics full-time. Come and give one year to Modiji. You are in the United States, you want a break, come and give six months to Modiji.

“I hope that this padayatra will act as a catalyst to recharge local politics in a way that is different from the established mould, in which you need money, you need star-power and you need to pay Rs 2000 to get each vote.

“We believe, we can break that through this padayatra.’’

About The Nature Of Opposition

‘‘Usually, the opposition parties in the state are not very combative. They keep quiet for four years and then in the fifth year, they wake up and hold some protests and end up winning the election. The BJP is changing that paradigm now.’’

On Challenges Before The BJP And How Is The Party Overcoming Them

‘‘We are in an expanding phase. Now we are in a much better position and are able to fill our booth-level posts. Our leaders and candidates are young people whereas the other parties have leaders who have been in politics for 30 years, 40 years etc. and are five-time MLAs, six-time MLAs with entrenched networks.

“To combat this challenge, we are asking each of our booth-level karyakartas to look after a certain number of houses not just as politicians but as social workers by speaking to them regularly to combat the DMK’s narrative and helping them with access to central government schemes.

‘‘But at the same time, I see a strong Modi wave and so we must work hard to translate that into votes to send a good number of MPs to Parliament in 2024 and building on that we can come to power in the state in 2026.’’

Also Read: Tamil Nadu: 'We Have Done What No Other Party Has Done For Women', Says Annamalai

S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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