Can Modi's Trichy rally change Tamil Nadu's political scenario?

Chennai, Sep 20 (IANS) The Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's rally next Thursday at Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) will surely change the political scenario in Tamil Nadu, party leaders say.

"Modi's visit to Tamil Nadu is long-pending. We decided on Trichy (around 350 km from here) as it is in the centre of the state and because of the absence of big grounds in other places," Pon Radhakrishnan, president of the BJP's state unit, told IANS.

According to him, more than 200,000 people are expected to attend the rally.

To a query on the rally's political significance and the political benefits for the BJP, Radhakrishnan said: "We are sure the political scenario will change in the state after Modi's rally. What the change would be is hard to guess, but there will be a change."

When asked whether the rally would nudge parties like the DMDK, MDMK and PMK towards the BJP for an alliance to fight the 2014 general elections, he said: "That is too early to tell."

H. Raja, BJP's national executive member and vice president of the Tamil Nadu unit, was however a bit more forthcoming on the matter.

"Political rallies in general showcase a party's strength to potential allies. And in a way, Modi's rally will showcase the BJP's strength and the people's mood," Raja told IANS.

BJP leaders and cadres expect the rally to nudge parties like the DMDK, PMK and MDMK to look at them for an electoral alliance for the general elections.

L. Ganesan, the BJP's senior leader from the state, has said the party would welcome the DMDK, MDMK and others for an alliance.

The BJP is exploring a possible three- or four-party alliance that includes actor-turned-politician A. Vijayakant-promoted DMDK to fight the Lok Sabha elections, party officials in Chennai said.

The party may also rope in the PMK and look at the MDMK.

"Feelers have been sent by the DMDK to the party leadership for a possible alliance to fight the general elections. In a way, this makes sense for both the parties," a senior BJP leader, not willing to be named, had erlier told IANS.

Explaining the rationale of aligning with the DMDK, he said that in Vijayakant, the people of Tamil Nadu see someone willing to take on the two major Dravidian parties - the AIADMK and the DMK.

The DMDK has a proven vote share of around 10 per cent. Further, there is an undercurrent in the state in Modi's favour.

Meanwhile, Modi will be addressing the Trichy rally from the dais designed like Delhi's Red Fort, as he did at his rally in Ambikapur in Chhattisgarh.

"The theme is (Trichy's) Rock Fort to Red Fort," K.T.Raghavan, a member of the BJP's Tamil Nadu media panel, told IANS.

Party leaders and cadres are upbeat as even non-BJP members from different walks of life have expressed their willingness to attend the Trichy rally to hear Modi.

It is learnt a large number of satellite channels have shown interest in telecasting the rally. Surely the party has come a long way when there was only one Tamil channel that was willing to telecast the BJP leader's rally here some years ago.

According to party members, Modi's Hyderabad rally was telecast live by around 115 TV channels - and that number may be exceeded at Trichy.

Interestingly the entry fee for the Trichy rally is Rs.10 against Rs.5 charged in Hyderabad.

But then, Modi's brand equity has gone up between Hyderabad and Trichy.

At Hyderabad he was the party's election campaign chief but at Trichy, he will be the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, a BJP member quipped.

According to Raja, the party had decided that Modi would address around 100 rallies by December-end. There will be more Modi rallies across the nation in the coming days.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at v.jagannathan@ians.in)

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