BJP's generalissimo gets gung-ho against AIADMK

From Paris to Madurai, it's a long journey for the environment minister.

Chennai: A demonstrably calibrated step-up in the political attacks on the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu by its long-perceived ‘natural ally’, the BJP, in the run-up to the May 16 Assembly polls, has not come a day too soon. From suave articulation of the Narendra Modi government’s position at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015 — strangely coinciding with the worst floods Chennai had seen in decades- to his latest tryst with words in Madurai, the home of the ‘Fish-eyed’ Goddess Meenakshi, Union minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Mr Prakash Javadekar’s journey, is a politically ringing one.

Even when the Paris climate summit was on, there was a flip-flop on the BJP’s part, over whether larger climate change led to Chennai’s worst floods in living memory, or it was a plain natural disaster of great intensity. While public memory is generous to such verbal contradictions, Mr Javadekar, as BJP’s election-in-charge for Tamil Nadu, picked up the gauntlet more recently when the saffron party tried to woo back the DMDK founder-leader Vijayakanth into the BJP-fold as part of the latter’s efforts to rebuild the ‘National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the State.

Mr Javadekar’s first swipe against the AIADMK was that the Jayalalithaa government was ‘taking credit’ for the flood relief in Chennai and a few other northern districts, “when it is the Narendra Modi government which is helping Tamil Nadu in every way.” The Prime Minister had immediately sanctioned Rs 2,000 crore after an aerial survey of flood-hit Chennai, the BJP leader recalled after meeting Vijayakanth in the city recently.

This may have been brushed off as political assertion by big brother New Delhi. But it soon developed into a calibrated anti-AIADMK discourse, even as BJP failed to rope in ‘Captain’, or play ball with its other erstwhile ally, the PMK, which was ready for an embrace with the saffron party if only it accepted Dr Anbumani Ramadoss as the Chief Ministerial candidate, as projected months ahead of the polls by the PMK.

The BJP’s antipathy towards the AIADMK became more strident when, first the Union Power minister Piyush Goyal openly spoke about Chief Minister Ms Jayalalithaa not being accessible when Central ministers contacted her office.
Javadekar not only quickly endorsed it, but also rubbed in with another comment on the Tamil Nadu government’s “non-cooperative attitude” in not responding to the Dr Kasturirangan report on development of Western Ghats, despite his Ministry following this for last one year. As Vijayakanth’s subsequent decision to team up with the MDMK leader Vaiko-coordinated ‘People’s Welfare Alliance (PWA) came as a big blow to the BJP, which is now more or less going it alone in the polls save a few smaller parties, Javadekar’s critique of both the major Dravidian parties, particularly the AIADMK, hit a high shrill note in Madurai on Friday.

He roundly condemned the AIADMK regime for slapping sedition charges against anti-liquor activists who were only “exercising their democratic rights” in broad-basing their prohibition campaign — such rules do not apply to Central Universities.

But Javadekar also dwelt the blow much harder, alleging that the sand mining mafia and liquor lobby are fund providers for the Dravidian majors. Though other parties including the MDMK, Left and PMK have been lambasting the AIADMK on the corruption and prohibition issues, it is BJP’s Tamil Nadu generalissimo Javadekar’s stinging salvos that appears to have caught the public fancy more in the past few days. And the Environment Ministry’s policy intervention in areas like sand mining has given his critique a sharper edge.

“When guns boom from a Central Minister, naturally it carries more weight,” says a political analyst, who sees the increasing shrillness in the BJP’s attacks on the AIADMK as being directly proportional to the saffron party’s inability to sew up the NDA again. With neither the BJP’s 2014 Lok Sabha polls strategy of a ‘rainbow alliance’ replicable now, nor the moves by the BJP to get major OBC and Dalit groups to align on religiously singular lines, – even a rally addressed by Mr Amit Shah was held in Madurai some time back to bring all the Dalit sub-sects together-, taking off, the BJP top brass have launched a no-holds-barred tirade against the Dravidian majors, critical glare more on AIADMK.
Analysts say this strategy may help the BJP to regain some of its relevance in Tamil Nadu as “a political alternative” amid the DMDK-PWA alliance still in its infancy; it is also a bid to appropriate their’s and the PMK’s discourse that rubbishes the legacy of both DMK and AIADMK.

In a socio-political milieu where poll battles could be shaped with words, Javadekar, by targeting the mining and the liquor lobbies — a strategy that late Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi had tried in 1989 in Tamil Nadu, seems fine-tuning the Dravidian parties’ own rich legacy of political rhetoric. This seems all the more so after having failed to convince the Supreme Court to revive the traditional Tamil sport of ‘Jallikattu’. Yet, more than Javadekar’s, the more remembered quote here is AIADMK leader Ms Jayalalithaa’s one-liner during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls: “This lady is better than Modi.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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