Bihar polls impact on Tamil Nadu: Echoes of BJP’s Bihar caste formulahttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/bihar-polls-impact-on-tamil-nadu-echoes-of-bjps-bihar-caste-formula/

Bihar polls impact on Tamil Nadu: Echoes of BJP’s Bihar caste formula

Amit Shah’s August visit to Madurai was seen as an attempt to unify SC sub-sects under one umbrella.

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BJP President Amit Shah

BJP’s massive defeat in the Bihar Assembly polls has brought into focus its tactics in Tamil Nadu to acquire greater political significance in the state.

The party’s game plan for next year’s Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, which was launched by BJP chief Amit Shah in August 2015, has similarities with his Bihar experiments in attempts to consolidate fringe caste groups, and even in cajoling their local leaders by bringing them to Delhi for a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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Shah’s August visit to Madurai was seen as an attempt to unify sub-sects of the Scheduled Castes under one umbrella. For this, the BJP picked the Devendra Charitable Trust, a lesser known outfit that claims to represent the Pallar community, to pass a resolution to raise a demand for unique status.

WATCH VIDEO: Bihar Election Results: Editors’ Take

The strategy went to the extent of getting representatives of four OBC communities to endorse their demand to be distinctly recognised as the Devendrakula Vellalars.

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The Madurai meeting of Shah, which was called as ‘Madurai Declaration’ of the Devendrakula Vellalar Community, was strategised by RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy and was organised by the Swadeshi Jagran Manch.

Despite the state BJP leadership’s strained relationship with ally PMK, the ‘Madurai Declaration’ was seen as BJP’s experiment in reservation politics by exploring the idea of an OBC-Dalit axis in southern Tamil Nadu.

But the largest Dalit party in the state, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), on Sunday claimed that the Bihar mandate had given a thumbs down to BJP’s desperate caste and communal politics.

WATCH VIDEO: Parties React To Bihar Results: Rahul Gandhi, Kailash Vijayvargiya & Javed Raza Speak

VCK general secretary D Ravikumar said: “Bihar also proves that any kind of communal politics would only result in their own defeat. It would also be a lesson for leading parties in Tamil Nadu who had been playing caste card during elections. Grand Alliance’s win give a hope for people to fight against fundamentalism and social injustice.”

Ravikumar is one of the leaders directing the game plan for the People’s Welfare Front (PWF), a coalition of Left parties CPI and CPM, Vaiko’s MDMK and VCK to take on DMK and AIADMK in the next Assembly polls.

Political analysts also said that the Bihar outcome was a clear signal not just to the BJP but also to the mainstream parties in Tamil Nadu to stay away from divisive politics.

“Bihar results also show that if there is a grand alliance of parties that stands for people’s issues, no image worship or public relations strategies would work. It seems DMK has missed that opportunity for a grand alliance already as the Left and Dalit parties have formed a third front while Stalin was busy launching a Modi-model campaign early in the state,” said a senior advisor to DMK’s manifesto committee. He admitted the dangers of taking soft-Hindutva stands like the one attempted by M K Stalin, who recently said that DMK was a party of Hindus. The remark was seen as a U-turn from the party’s tradition of Dravidian politics.