Tamil Nadu election 2021: 'BJP will fight based on ideology and public issues'
First Published Feb 27, 2021, 2:47 PM IST
With just a month to go for elections in Tamil Nadu, Chikkamagaravalli Thimme Gowda Ravi, BJP's national general secretary and in-charge of South Indian states, is hoping to make major inroads not just in the state but also in Puducherry. Ravi spoke exclusively with Asianet Newsable's Yacoob.
There have been significant changes since you took over as general secretary for South India. How did you go about transforming the BJP's fortunes in Tamil Nadu?
Ours is a cadre-based party. For the last 70 years, we have been working. Earlier as Jan Sangh, then Janata Party, and now BJP. In a few places, we have mass support and in some others, we are yet to build mass support. We have to go a long way. In Karnataka, we have emerged as a mass party. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, we are yet to be so. Once that happens, we will emerge as an alternative power centre. Our fight will be based on our ideology and on public issues.
How confident are you of BJP's position in the forthcoming elections?
We had won one seat in 1984 as an independent and another in 1996. We peaked in 2001 when four of our MLAs won and we aligned with the DMK. Now we are making efforts to increase the seat tally to double-digits. We have aligned with the AIADMK. AIADMK-led NDA will come to power for the third time.
Let's come to Puducherry. It is said that your leader Nirmal Surana was instrumental in Congress MLAs pulling down the Congress government. What is your take on this?
They (Congress) failed to deliver their promises. They (disgruntled MLAs) kept waiting in vain for an opportunity and hence approached us. Our party has a system. We use our cadres and also rope in leaders from other parties.
How do you view the political developments in Puducherry?
I hope in the coming election, BJP will 100 per cent come to power. Either the BJP or the NDA will get the power.
How far have seat-sharing talks progressed with AIADMK? How many seats is the BJP expecting?
Discussions are going on. Our major partner is AIADMK. Getting more seats to contest is not important. What is important is winning more seats in whatever (seats) have been allotted. We will try to win more seats and whoever from NDA contests, we will support them in the rest of the assembly segments. We will help them to ensure their victory and with their help, we will also win.
In which parts of Tamil Nadu does the BJP think it can make a real impact?
Now we have a presence in 234 assembly segments across the state. The party is stronger in traditional segments like Kanyakumari and Coimbatore as compared to other places. Earlier, we were not even in the news. But now, our adversaries in Tamil Nadu want to criticize us. They are criticizing our central government and that much attention we have gained. Once we succeed in penetrating people's hearts, nothing will be impossible for us.
Will Sasikala's return change political equations in Tamil Nadu? Will it dent your prospects in the polls?
I will not say that she has no capability. It is AIADMK's internal matter. How they will treat her is up to them. We decided and declared that we will go with the AIADMK. Few things will be decided by the time factor. Even in Sasikala's case, time only will decide. We are not going to underestimate anyone and give cheap statements.
Devendrakula Vellalar segment has openly declared support to BJP. Do you think this will upset your ally as their vote bank many also get dented?
No, it is not like that. Just because of this reason, the entire community's votes will not come. For several years, they had been demanding recognition as Devandrakula Vellalar. Parties like DMK and AIADMK too had supported this demand. The state (government) had sent representation to the central government. All should get self-respect. Now to protect and honour this self-respect, BJP took steps. The Constitution has guaranteed self-esteem. We (BJP) will protect the self-respect and honour of the community (Devendra Kula Vellalar).