CHENNAI: With the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday spoke about the ‘Vajpayee brand’ coalition government at the Centre and expressed his willingness to follow the path shown by the late Prime Minister, who brought forth the dawn of ‘successful coalition politics’ in the country two decades ago, by according importance to ‘regional aspirations’.
Though he made this remark during his interaction with BJP’s booth level representatives from five districts in Tamil Nadu, Modi’s remarks have a national perspective since he said, “We cherish our old friends and our doors are always open (for alliance).”
Responding to a question from a BJP functionary in Arakkonam who wanted a clarification on the alliance, since “people were spreading rumours that in Tamil Nadu, the BJP might align with AIADMK or Rajinikanth or even DMK,” Modi did not give a direct reply but revelled on the coalition days of Vajpayee regime. Using the opportunity, he also targeted the Congress, saying the BJP always treated its allies with respect, ‘unlike the Congress’.
Speaking in favour of working with allies, he said, “A strong NDA is an article of faith for us. It is not a compulsion. Even when the BJP got majority on its own, we preferred to run the government with our allies. We cherish our old friends and our doors are always open to parties.”
However, indicating that the alliance issue was yet to be finalised in Tamil Nadu, Modi said, “But more than all these political issues, the winning alliance is an alliance with the people. The strongest alliance is one with the common people. I always say: Connect with all members of your booth. More than alliance, we have to focus on remaining connected with the people.”
“Atalji gave topmost importance to regional aspirations. He showed that the Centre and states could work together for the welfare of our nation. The BJP has always followed the path AB Vajpayee had shown,” said Modi said, and added criticism for the Congress: “What Atalji did was in direct contrast to the Congress which never cared for regional aspirations. The Congress ill-treated regional political parties, regional people and their aspirations, because it felt it alone had the right to be in power.”
“Even today, when the Congress doesn’t find alliance in Uttar Pradesh, their leaders are back to their arrogance. They say, ‘We will surprise everyone.’ Well, everyone is aware of the reality in UP,” he added.
On the ‘coalition remarks’ made by the Prime Minister, political analyst Tharasu Shyam is of the view that Modi’s words indicate that the BJP was yet to get a concrete ally in Tamil Nadu and that he was trying to woo the non-committal parties including PMK, which took a stand favourable to the NDA government’s 10 per cent reservation, besides the DMDK, which has been showing leniency towards the BJP during the recent period.
“Because of the anti-BJP mood in Tamil Nadu due to the NDA government’s stand on vital issues like Mekedatu, Mullaiperiyar, NEET etc., it seems the AIADMK is in a dilemma over aligning with the BJP. These issues can be regarded as a continuation of what the previous UPA regime did. But the 10 per cent quota for economically backward sections in the general category, will affect Tamil Nadu severely,” Shyam told Express.
“If AIADMK joins hands with the BJP now, such a move will create two alliances – one that is for the 10 per cent reservation and another against it. Since the AIADMK has been a very strong proponent of reservation, it will find it hard to take the decision of aligning with the BJP. Besides, the AIADMK has already had an experience in this regard in 1980, when MGR tried to bring in economic criterion, he faced rout in the Lok Sabha elections and withdrew that move,” he pointed out.