Bengaluru: For long, the Bharatiya Janata Party has been trying to spread its wings in southern India. So, far the party has met with success in this endeavour in Karnataka. Now, the party has set sights on leaving a footprint in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.

Asianet Newsable spoke exclusively to CT Ravi, BJP’s National General Secretary who is in charge for South India

Q. As South India in-charge, you have a big task before you. How do you plan to ensure the party's growth? What will be your strategy?

Ravi: Our long-term plan is that our party should be 'Sarvaparshi, Sarvavyapi' -- the party should grow across the country. We want to reach out to all sections. BJP doesn’t believe in political untouchability. We don't believe in either social or political untouchability. We want to take everyone along and grow. Due to efforts like this, in many states, we have increased in strength. Except for Karnataka, we still have to grow in other states. Be it Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala or even Lakshadweep, we have to grow. We have to come up with a strategy and ensure that the strategy gets implemented via teamwork. Our responsibility may change, but teamwork will remain. We will do these things 

Q. People in Tamil Nadu are critical about imposition of Hindi and view BJP as an anti-Tamizh party. How will you convince the voters?

Ravi: It’s not exactly like that. Based on each state's situation, (the focus is to) protect the public interest and at the same time also promote national interest. BJP does politics based on the 'Nation First' policy. We will not ignore regional interests.

In our new education policy, we have given prime importance to all the state languages and also the national language. So the question of ignoring state languages does not arise.

When it comes to Tamil Nadu, it is Tamil pride, in Karnataka, it is Kannada pride, when it comes to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it is Telugu pride and in Kerala, it is Malayalam pride. But (the underlying principle is) 'Bharatha Jananiya Tanujate' – (all mother India's children) -- we will keep this in mind and work.

Q. Particularly in Tamil Nadu, you will need a strategy to make an impact. Do you have one, especially since you were Tamil Nadu in-charge till some time back?

Ravi: Next week, I will hold a meeting and take up the regional issues first. We will measure which one (issue) will influence the election. Thereafter we will analyse our strengths and weaknesses. We will then assess the opportunities (before us) and then finalise something.

Q. Is the BJP planning to replicate the Bengal model? Is that why former IPS officers who are part of the party are being send down South to attract youth just like the way Babul Supriyo did? BJP did make significant inroads into Bengal.

Ravi: Not like that, Annamalai (former Karnataka IPS officer) is doing well. He is attracting the youth. There is a future for him in BJP. We will use the opportunity to ensure the growth of BJP.

Q. Your party yet to establish a strong base in Tamil Nadu. Only an alliance will be an option for long term growth. AIADMK was said to be a natural ally. Are you also considering aligning with the DMK?

Ravi: Even Karnataka was facing a similar situation. Voters were either with Janata Dal or Congress. Now they are supporting us. Till we establish ourselves here (in Tamil Nadu), the situation will be similar. Once we establish ourselves, we will reap the benefits. In the interest of the nation and in the interest of Tamil Nadu, we are open. We will keep all our option open and think

Q. Rajinikanth is still seen as an outsider when it comes to politics, and voters are inclined towards either AIADMK or DMK. BJP may also be seen as an outsider in the state.

Ravi: There are people who will talk like that. When Jayalalitha was in the forefront of Tamil Nadu politics, people said she is from Mandya. But she became chief minister 4 times. Karunanidhi was called a Telugu, MGR was called a Malayalee. But people did not care. All these people became CMs. Adversaries will always raise these issues. Be it Rajinikanth, Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi or MGR -- all represented Tamil pride. That is the beauty of the nation. (Kannada writer) DV Gundappa's mother tongue is Tamil but he embraced and represented Kannada.