Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit a strategic move to strengthen BJP in Puducherry? 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Union Territory on Sunday has generated a lot of interest in the political circles here.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi| File  PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi| File PTI

PUDUCHERRY: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Union Territory on Sunday has generated a lot of interest in the political circles here. Even though the UT won’t be seeing an election in the immediate future, the PM’s visit is largely seen as a strategic move by the saffron party to come to power in Puducherry, which has so far kept the party at bay.  If the BJP could succeed in Puducherry, it would be able to use it as a base to try to gain foothold in South India, as said by the party’s leaders in the past. Though it never had an elected Lok Sabha member or an MLA, except in 2001 when a lone MLA A M Krishnamurthy was elected from Reddiarpalayam, the party remains upbeat in its efforts to succeed.

The likely ploy here is to enhance the political base of the party and then join hands with the Opposition, All India NR Congress (AINRC), formed by former Chief Minister N Rangasamy, who broke away from the Congress with his supporters in 2011, feels political analysts.  For being accepted as an ally, however, the BJP will have much ground work to do. Though the party had allied with AINRC during the last Parliamentary elections, it was not entertained by AINRC during the Assembly elections in 2016 owing to its weaker voter base. In fact, the BJP had lost all the seats it contested and even lost the deposit of BJP State president V Saminathan, who, however, attributed his defeat to the money power of other parties.

Path ahead
Putting this behind, the BJP has been making efforts to enhance its political base here. Notably, party national president Amit Shah had made a couple of visits to the Union Territory in the past one year. Shah, during his visit on June 26 and 27 last, attended some 13 meetings with party functionaries as well as with intellectuals and professionals, and elicited their independent views to chalk out elaborate plans to strengthen the party’s base here.

Now the party believes the Prime Minister’s visit would do much good in realising the party’s ambition by not only boosting the morale of party functionaries but also by gaining people’s confidence. V
 Saminathan had stated that the PM’s visit would lead to political changes in the UT. Though he did not wish to elaborate on it, the party has been working to make itself popular by projecting the schemes and achievements of the incumbent BJP government at the Centre.

The BJP’s confidence springs from the fact that Puducherry, being a UT, is dependent on the Centre for its growth and development. As such, the people always voted a national party (Congress) to power over the past 50 years, despite the rule of Dravidian parties in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
Also, in view of a mixed voter base in Puducherry, the party feels it can grow to win some constituencies. Hence the party believed if it properly projected the achievements of the Narendra Modi-government and exposed the omissions and commissions of Congress government in Puducherry, it would be able to succeed, Saminathan had said.   

Moreover, with differences within the Congress party getting surfaced, the BJP feels that politicians, who have good chances of winning elections, may switch over to the BJP in future, particularly if the party wins the next Parliamentary elections and remains in power. 
Parliamentary elections, therefore, hold the key to BJP’s success in the UT, say party functionaries. Whether the party, through its strategy, can break the Congress bastion of Puducherry, only time will tell.

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The New Indian Express