The BJP's Tamil Nadu unit had pinned its hopes on the 'Prana Pratishtha' of the Ram temple in Ayodhya to make significant strides in Tamil politics.
Aligned with the national directive aiming for 400-plus seats and a 50% vote share, the Tamil Nadu BJP seeks to contribute a share of seats to this ambitious target.
Ahead of the consecration ceremony, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, observing an 11-day fasting period, spent three days in Tamil Nadu, making public visits to prominent temples such as the Ranganathananda temple in Trichy, Rameswaram temple, and the Arulmigu Ramaswamy temple in Dhanushkodi.
Modi's spiritual engagements, including bathing in all 22 wells at Ramanathaswamy temple and a symbolic dip in the sea, accompanied by chanting mantras, are expected to resonate positively in Tamil Nadu. The BJP anticipates substantial gains in the state, leveraging the national wave of enthusiasm surrounding the Ram temple.
The party eyes securing five seats in Tamil Nadu, encompassing areas like Kanniyakumari and Coimbatore, where it had previously succeeded.
However, the electoral landscape appears challenging for the BJP in the 2024 general elections in Tamil Nadu without an alliance with the AIADMK. As the principal Opposition party, the AIADMK remains a formidable force in Tamil Nadu politics, despite its narrow defeat in the 2021 Assembly elections to the DMK.
The rift between the AIADMK and BJP emerged due to the criticism from K Annamalai, the Tamil Nadu BJP state President and a former IPS officer turned politician. Annamalai's disparaging remarks about C. Annadurai, a revered figure in the Dravidian movements and the first Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, led to the dissolution of the AIADMK-BJP alliance.
According to KR Mukundan, Director of the Institute of Policy and Social Studies, the BJP's publicized temple visits have boosted its fortunes in Tamil Nadu, but caution is needed not to offend Dravidian sentiments. The BJP's potential success may be hindered by Annamalai's actions, potentially resulting in a setback in the 2024 general elections.
While efforts are underway for a potential reconciliation between the AIADMK and BJP, Annamalai's perceived arrogance remains a stumbling block. Yet, sources in the BJP central leadership indicate that Union Home Minister Amit Shah is set to communicate directly with Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) to re-establish the AIADMK in the NDA fold.
If the alliance materializes, the BJP aims to secure a minimum of three seats, with a focus on winning five seats. The significance of the AIADMK for the BJP in Tamil Nadu is underscored by the 2019 general elections, where the BJP struggled to secure votes without the support of Dravidian parties.
In the 2021 Assembly elections, the BJP won four seats through an alliance with the AIADMK, emphasizing the importance of the AIADMK in the BJP's electoral strategy in Tamil Nadu.
Despite the BJP's impressive display regarding the Ram temple, challenges loom large in the state's political landscape. Annamalai's perceived arrogance poses a hurdle, but the BJP central leadership aims to navigate a middle ground, capitalizing on the national enthusiasm surrounding the Ram temple.
(With Agency Inputs)