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Will the New Year bring in its wake a new equation in the relationship between the Union government at the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government, or between two diametrically opposed parties, the BJP and the DMK? This is the question uppermost in the minds of political parties as the State gets ready for PM Narendra Modi’s first visit to Tamil Nadu, since the formation of the MK Stalin government, for an official function on January 12, 2022.

11 new medical colleges are set to be opened at Virudhunagar on January 12, with the participation of PM Modi, CM M K Stalin and Union Health and Family Welfare minister Mansukh Mandaviya slated to take part in the event.

The function will be keenly watched particularly to see if there is any bonhomie or chemistry between the two leaders or whether the frostiness of the past will continue. It can be safely said that Modi would go out of his way to reach out to Stalin as part of the BJP’s Operation 2024 when the BJP hopes the DMK would align with the BJP as part of its Plan A.

The function will be keenly watched particularly to see if there is any bonhomie or chemistry between the two leaders or whether the frostiness of the past will continue. It can be safely said that Modi would go out of his way to reach out to Stalin as part of the BJP’s Operation 2024

If this does not materialise, the BJP would go in for Plan B, which is to somehow break the formidable alliance of the DMK with the Congress and the Left parties which secured for the latter 38 of the 39 LS seats up for grabs in Tamil Nadu. The DMK would be persuaded to have an alliance with parties other than the BJP and the Congress, wherein the BJP’s main objective would be to reduce the kitty of the Congress from Tamil Nadu, and that of the secular parties as well. As part of this plan, the BJP would be prepared to ditch its ally, the AIADMK, and keep its doors open for a post-poll tie-up with the DMK at the Centre.

However, at the moment, this strategy is based on wishful thinking as the DMK is in no mood to get close to the BJP, beyond the formal Centre-State relationship. The thinking in the DMK camp seems to be to remain firm in its alliance with the secular parties, while the only concession it would grant is a cordial relationship with the Union government and its ministers to ensure that the State gets its share of Central projects and clearances which are necessary for speedy economic growth in Tamil Nadu.

As part of this approach, Stalin has asked his ministers to be in regular touch with the Union ministers and the officials in New Delhi to take follow-up action on the State’s demands and pursue them till the ends are met. This strategy has helped formulate a working relationship with the Union government, avoiding bitterness on either side.

There has thus been a cooling period which has prevented a deterioration of ties like in West Bengal. Stalin believes it is better for the State government to prevent that kind of acrimony as it would bring out greater harm than good.

Stalin believes it is better for the State government to prevent that kind of acrimony as it would bring out greater harm than good.

The DMK realises it has to be cautious and wary given the BJP’s track record of pretending to be pally with regional parties and then launching Operation Poach, to acquire strength through the defectors, (thereby also weakening the regional party) and then in the final phase launch a confrontation between the Union government and the State government, setting the stage for a BJP versus regional party scenario, where other opponents of the BJP are pushed to the sidelines.

The BJP then emerges at least as the number two party of the State if not number one. It is this modus operandi that the BJP is trying to push through in states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Orissa, having already tried it out in Karnataka (JD-S), Maharashtra (Shiv Sena), besides Uttar Pradesh (BSP).

The Virudhunagar function on January 12 to mark the opening of 11 new medical colleges in the State is a culmination of the proposal initiated by the AIADMK government, with the State expected to get additional 1,450 MBBS seats through these new colleges. The AIADMK will accuse the DMK of trying to cash in on its work, but such situations have arisen during the AIADMK government itself, when Jayalalithaa herself inaugurated several schemes which had been ushered in by the previous DMK government.

Nevertheless, a nervous AIADMK will be closely watching the event to see if there are signs of an improvement in the ties between the BJP and DMK leaders. At the moment, the AIADMK is left with only one ally, the BJP, and therefore there is a lot at stake. The BJP hopes for a return of the 2001-2004 period when it was wooed by both the AIADMK and the DMK. The BJP’s hopes in Tamil Nadu rest on such dreams


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