Official work, temple visits and roadshows: Modi’s southern push in TN and Kerala

The Prime Minister has made multiple visits to the states in the past few months, combining official work with temple visits and roadshows.


Published Feb 28, 2024 | 8:34 AMUpdatedFeb 28, 2024 | 11:02 AM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai. (X)

In his big southern push ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, 27 February, made a strong pitch for the BJP against the major parties in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the states seen as the saffron party’s Achilles heel, and launched a broadside against the CPI (M) and the Congress, saying they are enemies in Kerala but are BFFs (best friends forever) elsewhere.

In back-to-back events in the two southern states that have always cold-shouldered the BJP, Modi asserted his party came second to none when delivering to the people of the two states.

The Prime Minister has made multiple visits to the states in the past few months, combining official work with temple visits and roadshows.

His comments in Kerala that the BJP never treated any state as a vote bank and that Tamil Nadu received more central funds in the last decade under his party’s rule are seen as rejoinders to the two states’ claim that they suffered vis-a-vis devolution of funds.

While Modi pilloried the local rivals CPI (M) and Congress for their incongruity in Kerala, in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, he dwelled on issues involving Tamil pride, closely intertwined with state politics.

Related: ‘Enemies in Kerala but ‘BFFs’ elsewhere’

Modi invokes Tamil pride

In his concerted effort to bolster the BJP’s presence in southern states ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Modi embarked on a significant campaign in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Here’s a breakdown of key points from his engagements:

  • Assertive Pitch: Modi made a robust pitch for the BJP in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, states traditionally considered challenging for the saffron party. He emphasized that the BJP is committed to serving all sections of society and delivering on promises.
  • Challenges to Opposition: Modi launched scathing attacks on Opposition parties, particularly the CPI(M) and Congress in Kerala, highlighting their contradictions and lack of vision for national progress. In Tamil Nadu, he criticised the ruling DMK for dynasty politics, contrasting it with the legacy of leaders like MGR.
  • Development Promises: Modi assured both Kerala and Tamil Nadu of continued development under BJP rule, refuting claims that only BJP-ruled states receive central funds. He emphasized his government’s commitment to fulfilling the aspirations of the people and fostering economic growth.
  • Tamil Pride: In Tamil Nadu, Modi touched upon issues of Tamil pride, acknowledging the state’s rich cultural heritage and praising leaders like MGR and Jayalalithaa. His use of the term kongu and his references to Sengol were seen as attempts to connect with local sentiments.
  • Emotional Connect: Modi highlighted his emotional connection with Tamil Nadu, expressing gratitude for the love and support he has received from the people of the state. His visit to the Madurai Meenakshi temple further underscored this sentiment.
  • Space Mission Announcement: Modi made a historic announcement at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thumba, Thiruvananthauram, revealing the names of the astronauts undergoing training for India’s Gaganyaan mission. He hailed these astronauts as representatives of India’s aspirations for space exploration.
  • Infrastructure Projects: The Prime Minister dedicated several infrastructure projects in Tamil Nadu, signaling the government’s focus on development initiatives in the state. He inaugurated new projects in Thoothukudi and laid the foundation stone for new initiatives, totally worth over ₹17,000 crore.
  • New ISRO launch complex: Modi laid the foundation stone for a new launch complex of ISRO at Kulasekarapattinam near Thoothukudi, which is worth about ₹986 crore and the facility is set to accommodate 24 launches per year. The new ISRO complex includes 35 facilities, and features a mobile launch structure (MLS) with checkout computers, marking a significant stride in enhancing space exploration capabilities.

Overall, Modi’s engagements in Kerala and Tamil Nadu aimed to strengthen the BJP’s electoral prospects in these crucial southern states, emphasizing development, national pride, and the party’s commitment to inclusive governance.

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