Modi’s charisma is a myth, and BJP banks on corrupt, “family-owned parties”, to make a dent in the South: The Tamilnadu story 

Modi TN1

A BJP election rally in Salem: It was Modi’s  sixth visit to Tamil Nadu, on March 19, 2024. Dr Ramadoss’ PMK had just joined hands with BJP. Modi is flanked by leaders of several “family-owned parties”, like GK Vasan’s TMC, Ramadoss’ PMK, AIADMK’s break-away faction led by O. Panneer Selvam. There are more than dozen such parties in the present NDA coalition  in the state, together contesting all the 39 Loksabha constituencies.   

Modi’s talk is pure hypocrisy on dynastic politics: Modi-led BJP woos several ‘family-owned parties,’ in Modi’s words, in fact their rump elements, to make a dent in the South, as it did in Karnataka (part-4), as also Telugu States, AP and Telangana  (part-5), which had their polling on May 13 Monday. BJP claims it will gain in both southern states.

This part-6 of the series covers another southern state, Tamilnadu, where polling took place in phase-1, and where speculation is currently  rife on the results.

This story, presented in a series of articles, is worth studying, also by political scientists and caste theorists, as it indicates how politics are now carried on in India, more so South India: they are most opportunistic, most unethical, with notoriously corrupt dynasties dictating politics, aided by moneybags and a flood of liquor supplied free of cost to supporters and voters.In campaign rhetoric, it is a new low under Modi who practises post-truth. In Tamilnadu, it is a dangerous mixture of Rabid Hindutva and Brazen casteist politics, going all out to capture power.  


Even as AP and Telangana went to polls on May 13, Amit Shah on May 11 exuded confidence, and said:  “On the day of results – June 4, in Karnataka, AP, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, BJP will emerge as the single largest party. In these states, BJP will get the greatest number of seats. In Telangana, we will win more than 10 seats.”

It is part of the mind-game BJP is playing, a “jumla” in Shah’s words, saying the BJP would get 400 plus out of 540 seats, and Congress would not get more than 40. Whatever the result, the way BJP worked in the South is discussed in this series.

Historically, Tamil Nadu which has 39 Lok Sabha seats, has seen a two-party dominance of AIADMK and DMK, alternating. However, this time, basically a three-way contest is anticipated, with the BJP-led NDA striving to expand its presence in the Dravidian heartland.

2021 April Assembly elections: BJP wants to upturn the scene

In 2021 April Assembly elections, out of 234 seats, DMK-led Secular Progresssive Alliance (SPA) won 45.38 % vote, and 159 seats including DMK’s 133 with 37.7 % vote, Congress 18 with 4.27% vote; around one percent vote was obtained by each party VCK 4, CPI and CPM 2 seats each.

NDA won 39.71 % vote and 75 seats including AIADMK’s 66, PMK 5 with 3.80%, BJP 4 with 2.62. There was a PFA (People’s First Alliance), which contested all seats (and got 2.73% vote) , led by actor Kamal Haasan’s MNM that contested 140, but won not a single seat. There was a People’s Front led by AAMK party of TTV Dhinakaran, a Jayalalita protege and a nephew of the notorious VK Sasikala  that broke away from AIADMK , and  polled 2.85% vote. 

Very few Indians notice that there is a Nam Tamilar katchi (NTK) that got 6.58 % vote but no seats; Led by film producer Seeman, it stands “morally” for an ‘independent Tamil Eelam’, including LTTE-stronghold in Srilanka. It was branded as a B-team of AIADMK or even BJP, but expectedly denied.   

BJP led by K Annamalai this time aims for a double-digit vote  share  and seats in the state. BJP is contesting 19 plus 4 (23) seats on its symbol, and has allied with several other sub-regional parties in the rest.

It’s a concerted effort by BJP in Tamilnadu

Modi visited Tamilnadu around a dozen times in the run up to the April 2024 polls,  worshiped with pomp and piety in many temples of Tamilnadu including  Rameswaram on 2024 Jan 20.

In January, ahead of the Ram Mandir consecration, Modi spent 11 days in south India. He made pilgrimages to temples related to Ram and held road shows. Besides, Modi undertook fast during this whole period. He broke it in Ayodhya on January 22.

He recited from Kamba Ramayanam in Tamil. He regularly quoted, even in international meets, from Tirukkural, wore traditional Tamil dress, brought out and installed Sengol in parliament  and indulged in all antics. He linked Kashi with Tamil Sangam period, helped tourist packages. .  

“Rahul Gandhi’s comments on ‘Shakti’ were an attack on the Hindu religion,” said PM Modi taking on the INDIA bloc and the ruling DMK. Modi also blamed that they are opposed to, and derided, ‘our Sanatana Dharma’. 

Modi’s successful roadshow in Chennai, on April 9, was reportedly a marker. frontline.thehindu.com,  Apr 10, 2024 reported from Chennai: “The BJP’s organising efficiencies were on full display at Modi’s roadshow, with the streets filled with people in saffron-coloured garments showering flower petals on the cavalcade and holding lotus emblems and cardboard cut-outs of the Prime Minister.”

Cadres of BJP’s allies like TMC were also hailing Modi, “the saviour”, also for TN. Despite Modi, Chennai city, as usual polled low at around 54 percent. The showmanship is good for the media and the gullible viewers, but final tally involves lot of sweat, huge money and utter lies to befool the voters for the voting day. 

 On April 15, four days before the polling date, Modi visited Tamilnadu for the eighth time in the three and a half months.Two days before that Amit Shah held a road show in Madurai. At the same time, Nirmala Sitharaman was campaigning in Nilgiris and Coimbatore. BJP president J.P. Nadda has held two roadshows in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry. And, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani and Anurag Thakur have campaigned in Chennai.

Certain pockets in the state, like the Kanniyakumari-Nagercoil-Tirunelveli belt, a few wards in Ramanathapuram and a few assembly segments like Coimbatore South had voted for the BJP or the candidate associated with the sangh parivar. The Vajpayee-led NDA had alliances with the Dravidian parties (AIADMK in 1998 and DMK in 1999), and that allowed the BJP to win three Lok Sabha seats in 1998 and four in 1999. It also won one seat―Kanniyakumari―in 2014, notably without an ally, which it lost to Congress in 2019.

Surjit Bhalla, economist and psephologist, whose new book ‘How We Vote’ told NDTV on April 20, 2024, a day after single-phase polling was over in Tamilnadu: BJP has been traditionally a weak party here. “I won’t be surprised if, of all the places, the BJP in Tamil Nadu gain over five seats. In Kerala, maybe one or two.”

Even if  Bhalla proves right, it only means Modi-led BJP regains that old 1999 tally, plus. But significantly, without major allies, DMK or AIADMK: It will be more saffron than in the past, with BJP leading the coalition. Annamalai hopes it will be a double-digit coalition.  

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“AIADMK would not exist after this election” : Annamalai

Annamalai

BJP Chief Annamalai (middle) is flanked by TTV Dhinakaran (Left) and O Panner Selvam, OPS (Right). The two are corrupt, rich, notorious offshoots of Jayalalita’s AIADMK, now in tatters thanks also to BJP’s machinations: Modi’s charisma is only an icing on the cake, that’s made with great and unscrupulous efforts by a term led by Annamalai, who roped in myriad leaders. OPS was waging a “dharma yuddham” (just war) against Dhinakaran in 2017, now patched up to join NDA.

BJP itself was clear Modi’s charisma won’t be enough to carry it forward. It wooed several small “family-owned” parties – a dozen in all – as Modi derided them, and roped them into a ragtag NDA-Tamilnadu coalition, with no common ideology or program except to grab power at any cost. So much for ‘value-based’ politics Modi claims. 

Under Annamalai, the BJP (since 2020) is building a rainbow alliance, bringing together various non-Brahmin caste outfits: O. Panneerselvam’s AIADMK rebel group, former AIADMK treasurer T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazagam and the Pattali Makkal Katchi, which has five seats in the current assembly. The PMK has strong backing from the Vanniyar community, which has close to 15 per cent of the votes in Tamil Nadu.

Youthful (aged 40) K. Annamalai, is a Gounder (non-brahmin), a graduate of IIM Lucknow and a former IPS officer, who took voluntary retirement to serve the cause of Hindutva politics. He made his best efforts – he walked across all 234 Assembly constituencies. Annamalai hopes it would be a double-digit vote in TN. Only final results will tell us reality.

 Annamalai, has tried to place the BJP as the primary opposition to the DMK. He had a big role in the AIADMK exiting the alliance, and BJP grabbing some of its base and its allies too.  Many young and first-time voters prefer Modi because of  Annamalai. “Modi has to win a third term,” he said, “and Tamil Nadu will contribute to the BJP’s numbers in Delhi.”

He has stressed that the contest in the state was between the BJP and the DMK, and added ominously that the AIADMK would not exist after this election.

This will be a main thing to watch in this election.   

If that indeed happens, the credit goes to Periyarists who helped BJP penetrate into hinterlands of Tamilnadu.  

Over the years, the BJP has come a long way in fine-tuning its communication with regards to the caste equations in the state, in an attempt to capture votes from the two Dravidian parties, the AIADMK in particular.

“Brahminical fascism”? 

The saffron party’s main aim in the past decade was to shake off the image of being a Brahmin-dominated, Hindi-heartland party and woo the backward castes. This it achieved already with the rag-tag coalition, and a Gounder Annamalai now leading it. Earlier it had appointed an Arundhtiyar (SC) L. Murugan (who launched Lord Murugan’s  vel yatra) its State President.

 India for the first time has a BC as a PM, it’s claimed, apart from many BC CMs. The elite prince (Rahul) does not like it, Modi says. The parivar now has many saffron sadhvi mothers too, apart from christian allies too; and a few Muslim Pasmandas or Shias.

All this should satisfy(?)India’s caste political theorists, including some who still call it a Brahminical fascism! We do not accept this formulation, and mention communities more to show that fascism and reaction are “secular” in their spread.  

Today most “secularists”, including many from Periyarist parties and the Left, are temple-going, soft Hindutva vadis. Periyarist Tamilnadu today has very few, even among SCs, who do not have some religious sign on their foreheads. Most leaders, across India, indulge in public worship – some perform elaborate and explicit yagnas -before they launch election campaigns. All this indicates a shift in the whole polity, under a “secular”  Constitution.      

BJP’s allies are all non-Brahmin, across India. Its chief ally is PMK, contesting 10 seats, next to BJP’s 23. PMK pools Vanniar votes, and plays anti-dalit politics.  PMK is like JDS founded by former PM Deve Gowda, in Karnataka – Modi called it father-son party- representing Vokkaligas.PMK is likewise led by Dr. Ramdoss and his son Anbumani Ramdoss, both former Ministers. They represent the influential, Vanniar community, that gained in electoral politics aided by both DMK and AIADMK, grabbing an exclusive share in reservations. 

BJP is also focusing on the Thevar community, influential in the southern districts. Nagendran, BJP floor leader, who was formerly with the AIADMK and then with the AMMK, is likely to bring in more votes from the south. Panneerselvam and Dhinakaran contesting from Ramanathapuram and Theni, respectively, are also expected to bring in the Thevar votes, which traditionally go to the AIADMK. Dhinakaran asserted that contrary to the common perception, the BJP has ground support in many constituencies, and communities.

Annamalai has set an ambitious target of 25 per cent vote share for the BJP―it has never got more than five per cent in the state. More realistically, that may be the target of BJP-led coalition.

Coimbatore, a stronghold of BJP, thanks to rabid, political communalism of 1990s

The state president Annamalai is contesting from Coimbatore, a stronghold of BJP. It was violent communal politics of 1997-98 that created a space. 1997 Nov-Dec riots saw 18 Muslims killed by Hindu Munnani zealots, who called for a boycott of Muslim traders and vendors, as in North in recent past.  And retaliation by rabid Islamist Al Ummah: the Coimbatore bomb blasts, on 1998 Feb 14, a series of 12 blasts within 12 km radius, that killed 58, and injured 200. They grew feeding on each other. People remember 1998, but forgot 1997, thanks to the biased Big media.

Even local police got communalized in Periyarist Tamilnadu: Jayalalita regime winked as it had an alliance with soft Hindutva of Vajpayee-led BJP, when (1998 Feb) NDA won 30 out of 39 Loksabha seats: AIADMK with 18 MPs shared power at centre, and later toppled the Vajpayee govt. PMK had 4, BJP 3, MDMK 3 MPs. Now Annamalai wishes to repeat that for Modi-led BJP. He grabbed a slice of AIADMK, OPS, and wooed TMC too.           

The BJP has gone all out to support Annamalai, supplying both strategy teams and volunteers. His war room reportedly has created at least a dozen sub groups and each of these groups has a target of roping in 1,000 youngsters to amplify the BJP’s message. Indeed, the AIADMK, which has a dozen MLAs in the Coimbatore-Pollachi-T iruppur belt, is finding the going tough because of the BJP’s money and new-found manpower.

All the three coalitions – SPA NDA and AIADMK alliance –  pumped in hundreds of crores.   But the polling percentages on Apr 19 were not encouraging:

Despite all the showmanship by BJP top brass, boosted by a lapdog media, polling in Tamil Nadu, with 39 Loksabha seats, on April 19 was 69.72 %, the lowest in recent past: It was 72-73%  in 2009, 2014 and 2019. It gave no indication of BJP stirring people in any significant manner, despite vigorous campaign  by Modi and Amit Shah. 

Coimbatore where Annamalai was supposedly stirring youth, polling was 65%, lower than state average of 69.7.

Even Chennai metro city, as usual polled low at around 54 percent, despite big road show by Modi etc for Mrs. Tamilsai, who resigned as  Governor of Telangana to return to active electoral politics.

Only Dharmapuri recorded a high vote of 81%, but that was not a seat where BJP had its candidate; it is linked to Dr Ramdoss-led PMK, a most reactionary NDA ally now. Ramanathapuram had a polling over 71%, but that was where O. Panner Selvam (OPS), thrice former CM  as a substitute of Jayalalita, contested as an independent backed by BJP-NDA. OPS was expelled by AIADMK, but allied with BJP.

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Modi with “zero tolerance for corruption” builds NDA with most corrupt, “family-owned” parties 

Modi Jayalalitha

PM Modi pays his last respects to Tamil Nadu’s former CM J. Jayalalitha at Rajaji Hall in Chennai (Photo: PTI, 6 December 2016). Modi  himself flew down from Delhi, instead of deputing others. Former CMs EKP and OPS also seen, apart from former Vice-president  Venkayya Naidu, the points-man of BJP, sent to “manage” AIADMK affairs, post-Jayalalitha.Modi-led BJP remote control of AIADMK is well known.   

Clad in white, an emotional Modi, who flew in from delhi, hugged and consoled Chief Minister O Panneerselvam who broke down. Modi also spoke to Jayalalithaa’s close confidante Sasikala  it was reported.

Jayalalitha was known to be an autocratic, corrupt leader, imprisoned and convicted too by the Supreme Court. A  typical leader of her ilk in India, she had corrupt, notorious  accomplices like one of her stooges, former CM OPS, and Sasikala. They all prostrated before her, literally and in public. Modi hugged OPS, now an NDA ally, consoles them all.  Sasikala’s nephew, Dhinakaran is also an ally of BJP.

Modi asks people to believe he has zero tolerance for corruption! Jayalalitha seized power from Janaki Ramachandran, wife of MGR, who had himself usurped power from DMK movement and Karunanidhi clan…all typical “family-owned parties.” Modi is supposedly fighting them like a Don Quixote.

To justify his opportunist alliances, he weaves stories: Modi claimed respecting “regional aspirations”, and so despite having its own strength to form a government on its own, he said, it allied with TDP and Jana Sena in AP. He derided TDP, rightly so, as a “family-owned”party, corrupt to the core: he said Chandra babu used Polavaram mega irrigation project as its own ATM. Now he allies with the same family: He was making a virtue out of necessity.

Modi dared to call DMK as an “enemy of Tamilnadu, its people, language and culture”, and asked people “to wipe out” the alliance led by DMK. He was addressing an election rally near Kanyakumari (newindianexpress, March 16, 2024). He was angry, and said DMK govt “banned” Tamil people watching his Ayodhya event.He said DMK and congress opposed jallikattu, a form of bull-fighting, which BJP supported.    

Modi-led BJP crushed many “regional aspirations,” and two CMs (Kejriwal and Hemant soren) are now in jail with cases framed by central agencies. Regional parties and aspirations, led by TMC’s Mamata, TRS/BRS KCR,  Mayawati’s BSP, Jagan’s YSRCP etc are under duress. BJP could not convince old allies in Tamilnadu, as they clearly saw BJP fishing in troubled waters of AIADMK after Jayalalita’s death  in 2016.     

Periyarists helped BJP win 4 Assembly seats in 2021, and 300 municipal wards

The AIADMK of Jayalalita, was the biggest NDA ally with over 19 % vote in 2019 Loksabha polls. In its rivalry with DMK, it helped BJP win four Assembly seats in 2021: many had believed,  innocently, the state with the anti-Brahmin Periyarist ruling classes was out of bounds for BJP with its Hindutva.

The BJP had felt that the cracks in the AIADMK could benefit it. But, the story ended with the AIADMK walking out of the NDA in September 2023, but only after helping BJP  breaking into TN. It was suicidal for AIADMK, which lost the ground , as also some allies to BJP.

In Kongunadu (Coimbatore, Salem, Erode zone), AIADMK stronghold, BJP polled 12 % vote in 2022 Feb municipal elections, contesting alone. In Kanyakumari district  stronghold, BJP won in 185 municipal wards: That is part of the Loksabha seat there. That is how Periyarist forces gave a walk-over to BJP.

BJP leads its own coalition, contesting  23 seats out of 39

It was thought by many that only Brahmin-Bania communities would help BJP. But more credit goes to Periyarist factions : The AIADMK govt had gone to the extent of filing cases and arrests, against dalit activists for allegedly ‘distorting Manu dharma’, and insulting Hindu women.   

What AIADMK did in the state, TDP of Chandra Babu Naidu has done, again latest in AP, where BJP polled less than one percent vote in 2019, less than NOTA. Thus opportunist ruling classes, in sheer vested interest, ganged up with BJP, which had no ideological affinity with them, helping the latter to make a mark in South.

Using its clout with AIADMK, BJP had won over 308 wards in town municipal elections in Feb 2022, occupying a third place, pushing down entrenched Tamil parties like PMK, Vaigo’s MDMK, NTK, Sasikala, Kamal Haasan factions. TN is a state with over 50 % urban vote, and BJP marking there is significant. 

Aided by its alliance with DMK, Congress had polled 3.3% vote, but BJP outwitted them by polling 5.4%, and that contesting on its own, but as a friendly party of AIADMK. 

Thus more than 300 urban wards now hoist BJP’s saffron flag. There was one woman in Chennai who publicly hailed Nathuram Godse and caste system, and won one ward. BJP claimed a second place in 30 wards of Chennai.    

AIADMK walked out of NDA, fearing its own prospects will be badly hit in Tamilnadu, with its anti-BJP traditions, but only after damage was done to it, and to Tamilnadu. The DMDK with 2.16 vote in 2019 also left NDA.

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Modi-led BJP mouths social justice, and outwits Bahujan and Sudra theorists

Recent decades witnessed an offensive by ruling classes to divide divert and undermine class struggles by the oppressed masses. They sought the cover of “social justice”, an euphemism for their casteist politics, and mouthed Ambedkar Phule Periyar only to serve their vested interests.  Neo-rich landlord classes, compradors and big contractors played their games behind them.

It is a new jargon of the ruling classes in the post-Nehru-Indira era. Some progressives and Leftists saw it as a counter to Hindutva, with the slogan of Kamandal Vs Mandal. That is their mantra against “Brahminical fascism” too. Theories were weaved aplenty. But Modi-led BJP outwitted them all.

BJP displaced BSP and SP in UP by invoking not only rabid Hindutva, but mobilizing small sub-caste groups from among SCs and BCs. They cultivated links with Shia and Pasmanda muslims, and christian groups in North-east, and recently in Kerala too.

After a gap of some time, BJP selected a Muslim, Dr. Abdul Salam  – former VC of a university – as their only Muslim candidate in Kerala’s Malappuram which BJP had demonized as a citadel of Islamic terrorists. It is an utter lie: That is a Muslim- predominant place, true, but the Left Front there had consistently polled 30-40 % vote. In 2021 Loksabha by-poll, CPM polled 38.53% , in 2017 ,36.81 % and in 2009 40 % as against Muslim League that won.A more “radical” Muslim party, SDPI always polled 2 to 5 % vote only.     

Caste politics can not counter fascism : It was Anti-Brahmin Periyarist ruling classes that helped BJP to penetrate Tamilnadu

Now Modi-led BJP is experimenting in Tamilnadu, a major centre of caste theories and politics, with its own coalition.  As currently the A-team of ruling classes, it has outwitted all others.  

The rabid “Hindutva Brahminical fascist” BJP led by Modi has more SCs STs and BCs among its MPs than others. It can not be fought by such casteist theories and politics, peddled and glorified as caste engineering. The writing is on the wall, even if one refuses to see it.

BJP had polled 3.66 % vote, and PMK 5.36 in 2019, and now both these parties ganged up.  Thus BJP for the first time leads a coalition of its own now, and  had found, as in UP and the North, many smaller allies: Indhiya Jananayaga Katchi, IJK, Puthiya Needhi Katchi PNK, and Tamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam TMMK will contest one seat each on the BJP symbol.

Including them, BJP is contesting  23 seats out of 39 and has forged an alliance  with nine more parties.

The others include the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK 10 seats), Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC, Moopanar) (3), and factions of the AIADMK, like former chief minister O. Panner selvam (OPS, 1) standing as an independent, and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK, 2) led by TTV Dhinakaran.The PMK has strong backing from the Vanniyar community, which has close to 15 per cent of the votes in Tamil Nadu.

All these are “family-owned parties,” as often derided by Modi, most of them were allies of the two dravidian parties, now weaned  away by Modi-led BJP. They are led by TTV Dhinakaran, a Mukkulathor BC community; actor and former MLA and MP, R Sarath Kumar and his wife Cine star Radhika (AISMK of Nadars);  former MP A.C. Shanmugam, a Mudaliyar of PNK, TMMK founder B. John Pandian of Tenkasi, and former MP TR Paarivendar alias Pachchamuthu of IJK. BJP has allocated one seat to Devanathan  Yadav’s Indian People’s Education Development Association, a lesser-known party. TTV Dhinakaran of the AMMK, a protege of Jayalalita  and notorious VK Sasikala,  mentioned that although he requested only one seat,  they were allocated two. It was called by some a “rain-bow alliance”

Devendra kula vellalars (DKVs) wooed in recent past by Modi-led BJP are a notable phenomenon, In 2021 March before Assembly polls, the Loksabha passed a Bill approving the name (DKVs) as incorporating 7 sub-castes, including Pallars.TMMK founder B. John Pandian and K Krishna Swamy, former MLA of Pudiya Tamizhagam (PT, a SC party), vied for its leadership. There was a movement demanding it be re-classified; some asked it should be treated as a BC, and not SC, a rare demand. Some DKVs practised discrimination, even untouchability, towards other sub-castes among SCs. Modi-led BJP seeks to harvest from this issue, and hence the Bill.      

NDA partners are contesting from Sriperumbudur, Kancheepuram, Arakkonam, Dharmapuri, Arani, Viluppuram, Kallakurichi, Salem, Erode, Dindigul, Tiruchirappalli, Mayiladuthurai, Thoothukkudi, Theni, Cuddalore, and Ramanathapuram. They are sure to facilitate penetration and boost of BJP, whether it wins or loses.  

Not that DMK is basically different from AIADMK.

DMK had allied with Vajpayee-led BJP, joined Union cabinet too. There was hobnobbing with Modi-led BJP too, and clandestine efforts were made by both sides for a deal. DMK had invited BJP to attend Karunanidhi’s funeral in 2018. Modi and Amit shah sent messages hailing him, and the Union announced an India-wide mourning.

Nitin Gadkari had attended, and said, in the presence of DMK family, that BJP has “ideological unity” (sic) on some issues.

BJP’s four MLAs, elected with AIADMK support after a gap of 20 years, supported DMK CM Stalin’s resolution (2021 Sep 7)  to observe Periyar’s birthday as ‘social justice day’. BJP floor leader Nainar Nagendran said social justice is a principle of BJP and Modi, BJP opposed caste and gender discrimination, principles close to Periyar. It supported 27% reservation quota for OBCs, he added. (newindianexpress, 2021 sep7) 

Both sides kept options of alliances open, but DMK had no need:The AIADMK meanwhile broke down, former CM OPS’ faction was expelled from it, and disintegrated. That is real politik on both sides!

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BJP- PMK : An alliance between Rabid Hindutva and Brazen casteist forces.

Modi Ramdoss

PM Modi with PMK founder S. Ramadoss during a public meeting ahead of Lok Sabha elections, in Salem, Tamil Nadu, March 19, 2024. (PTI Photo/R Senthil Kumar).

PMK is among the most reactionary parties in India. Ramadoss’ son Anbumani and daughter-in-law are among its leaders. It is more brazen than others, including those of sangh parivar, who coined the word Love Jihad. PMK wages its own Jihad against dalits. Khap panchayats in the North are notorious, and reported. But equally notorious are Katta panchayats, still going on in Tamilnadu, but they are mostly suppressed by the big media. 

Annamalai, a former IPS officer, significantly heaped praises on PMK’s Ramadoss, saying he wanted to implement “revolutionary” ideasfor the benefit of the society which Modi was doing presently (PTI).

What is so revolutionary in PMK and Ramadoss? See the following:

“However, there was a caste meeting, that took place about a month before a marriage, in which Kaduvetti J. Guru, a local MLA belonging to Paattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) gave a call that inter-caste marriages should not be accepted and whosoever dared to defy it should be done to death. Of late, the Vanniyars had been having this kind of campaign among them.”

That was what Civil Rights Movement leader, a serious scholar-activist, Dr Anand Teltumbde wrote in 2012. (Attack On Dalits Of Dharmapuri: A Fact Finding Report, 6 December, 2012, Countercurrents.org). 

A decade later, it was confirmed that they were not mere words. PMK was leading a pack of casteist wolves of Tamilnadu, as brought out by a series of articles by the present author. In one of them, titled Tamilnadu’s Political Casteism and DSP Vishnupriya’s Suicide (09/04/2022), the political import of (PMK’s brazen) casteism in Tamilnadu was discussed thus:

– PMK is brazenly anti-dalit, it called for attacks on those associated with the filmJai Bhim, and sought a ban on it! (The stated grouse also involved Guru, PMK MLA cited above.) 

– Like Love Jihad of BJP, the PMK openly opposed inter-caste marriages, more so involving dalits. Not even RSS opposes them. 

But PMK was allowed to be part of alliances led by Periyarist parties, DMK as well as AIADMK, as now.  Both DMK and ADMK had allied with BJP too. Such is the opportunism of the dravidian parties.

– Presently AIADMK, PMK  and BJP are in a formal alliance, belying the gullible that Periyarists would block such communal and casteist parties.

– AIADMK helped BJP, which was earlier confined to Kanyakumari district, to win four assembly seats and over 300 municipal wards across Tamilnadu.  

– During December 2012, PMK leader Ramadoss formed an all community safeguard forum comprising 51 intermediate castes; so wide is the caste web.  

– He alleged that the Dalits take undue advantage over other communities using the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and the Act should be abolished.

Thirumavalavan had visualized this in the past : he alleged in one of his interviews on 22 February 2000 that the DMK administration had used National Goonda Act and National Security Act to detain dalit cadres of his party. (Wyatt, Andrew (2009), cited by Wikipedia. Party System Change in South India: Political Entrepreneurs, Patterns and Processes. Routledge)

– Tamilnadu’s civil society, not to speak of Veeramanis, are silent about all this, and objectively speaking they are facilitating them. It is high time they stand up, break their silence, call a spade a spade, and launch a campaign against the unholy alliances of Periyarist parties. 

https://countercurrents.org/2022/04/tamilnadus-political-casteism-and-dsp-vishnupriyas-suicide

That was from an article published in April 2022, part of a series that has continued in the unique magazine, countercurrents.org, published by a bold editor Binu Mathew.

It was opportunist DMK and AIADMK who nursed the brazenly anti-dalit PMK

The opportunist Dravidian parties, both of them, over the years, nursed and strengthened  the PMK, a Vanniar casteist party. It had relegated many Tamil parties and surged ahead.  PMK had won 5 Loksabha seats in 1999 and also 2004, with help by AIADMK and DMK respectively. At its highest, it had won 18-20 assembly seats in 2001-2006 elections. Subsequently it won less seats. But in the current elections, PMK is contesting 10 Loksabha seats, aided by BJP and NDA.

The AIADMK, after parting with BJP, finalised seat sharing with 32 AIADMK candidates, one seat each to its allies  Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and SC-party Puthiya Tamilagam (PT),that are contesting on AIADMK symbol. Five Seats were allotted to DMDK.

The significance of that series in Countercurrents.org can be understood by the fact that a Tamil version of the summary of these  articles could not be published, despite efforts by some influential  friends: Even progressive or liberal magazines were not ready to publish it. Such is the vice-grip that caused surprise and anguish among the friends.      

However, efforts were pursued, some leaders of PUCL and others joined the efforts, and that helped to break the silence, at last : Three conventions were subsequently held by different forces on the caste oppression in  Periyarist Tamilnadu. A few hundred activists of various hues attended them, in Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore, between July and December 2023. ( See Appendix for some details).

***                       ***

Modi joins hands with notoriously corrupt, rump forces, like OPS, to enter South.

Modi OPS

O Panneerselvam said he agreed to the merger on PM Modi’s advice (NDTV File photo). OPS is a “zamindar” who now owns 131 plus 32 acres of farmland. Land ceiling laws are universally and brazenly violated by law-makers in India. He “manages”  all his affairs, scams etc, in courts ingeniously. Someone should remind Modi the maxim: ‘They know you by the company you keep’. 

Tamil Nadu Deputy CM, O Panneerselvam has confirmed a long-speculated role played by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP in the days ahead of his decision to merge his faction with the one led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EKP) in August 2017. .OPS, told his supporters in Theni, that it was on PM Modi’s advice that he had agreed to merge the two factions of AIADMK and join the government as the Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami’s deputy. (NDTV.com, February 18, 2018)

See this report, based on some documents etc, on the rise of OPS, a small-time hotelier.  He was thrice CM, ie, whenever Jayalalitha was in any trouble: 

“ In 1996, all this changed. Two things happened—OPS became chairman of Periyakulam Municipality, and he met T.T.V. Dhinakaran, a nephew of Jayalalithaa’s companion Sasikala. Dhinakaran introduced him to Jayalalithaa. In 2001, just five years later, she picked him to warm the chief minister’s seat when she was convicted in the Tamil Nadu Small Industries Corporation (TANSI) land deal. This is when his political graph started climbing.”

“ Critics say much of OPS’s wealth is parked in the names of his children and brothers, quite common for the bigwigs. “ OPS had earlier declared an acre agriculture land, a tea shop and 25 sovereigns. His house, valued at Rs 7.61 lakh, was owned by his wife Vijayalakshmi.

Said Thanga Tamil Selvan, MLA from Andipatti: “He is a zamindar, but no property has been registered in his name.”  Documents with THE WEEK show that the OPS family now owns 131 acres of agricultural land in Theni district. Vijayalakshmi now owns 32 acres.

 His sons, O.P. Raveendranath Kumar and V.P. Jayapradeep, have extensive corporate investments  (like in Tiruppur textile sector) and in shipping,  Xllent Marineline Pvt Ltd, a marine transport company.., with offices in Chennai,    Mumbai, Bengaluru and Singapore. The company, which used to hire shipping containers, now owns more than 500 of these. It also has sister concerns like Xllent Cargo Transport, a port logistics firm…

OPS’s son-in-law Kasirajan was the advocate for Tamil Nadu government housing board, which handled the state’s housing and land projects. And, until recently, Kasirajan’s father, Chellapandian, was additional advocate general at the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court.

(theweek.in, December 17, 2017)

The third time that OPS became Chief Minister was after J Jayalalithaa died in December 2016. But it was VK Sasikala, the AIADMK matriarch’s companion, who had appointed him Chief Minister while she took control of the party. She, however, forced him to quit later with a plan to take over as Chief Minister.

***                           ***

Modi with Dhinakaran who paid Rs. 10,000 per vote, and won

Modi Dinakaran

PM Modi with  Dhinakaran, in a Salem election rally , March 19, 2024. The AMMK chief thanked Modi-led BJP.. (PTI): It is a typically “family-owned party”, as derided by Modi, and notorious for  corruption Modi is supposedly fighting. It is in the company of such and worse parties BJP seeks to enter South, fully aware that Modi’s charisma can not win seats in the South.    

Modi in the rally on March 19, 2024, said that stringent action would be taken against corruption over the next five years, and asked the people of Tamil Nadu to give his BJP-led NDA a massive mandate in the Lok Sabha elections. Mr. Modi said the DMK and Congress party were two sides of the same coin as both were involved in corruption and family rule.  (The Hindu, March 20).

Modi is fully aware of his company in the public meeting. See below for details. Why only DMK and Congress? So was AIADMK during the time of Jayalalita and after her.

TTV Dhinakaranis the notorious nephew, and successor of the notoriously corrupt V. K. Sasikala, who in turn was the alter ego of Jayalalita; both were convicted and imprisoned, it is well known.

BJP alloted two Loksabha seats to AMMK, though only one was anticipated said, Dhinakaran. TTV Dhinakaran, launched his typically family-owned party, AMMK ( Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazagam)  in 2018, after he was expelled from the AIADMK in August 2017.  

Sasikala, the key manipulator of Jayalalita emire, was AMMK  general secretary, before she was expelled by usurper Dhinakaran, in April 2019. In February 2017, a two-bench Supreme Court jury pronounced Sasikala guilty and ordered her immediate arrest in a disproportionate-assets case, in which Jayalalita was also involved, effectively ending Sasikala’s chief ministerial ambitions. She was released in January 2021.

“In 2017 by-elction to RK Nagar Constituency, TTV Dinakaran won ; he reportedly paid Rs 10, 000 per vote; AIADMK that paid Rs 5000 stood second, and DMK that paid Rs 2000 stood third (TNM ground report 2017 Dec 19). No “injustice” was done by the voters, in the auction to buy votes. Earlier the election here was canceled by EC amid bribery of voters to the tune of Rs.89 cr in this single seat,“ said a report by TNM. The repeat election witnessed more of bribery! Often big media avoids this detail, and they see and show “people’s wisdom” in polls.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman was offered a BJP seat, but she plainly said she does not have that much money and caste-community connections that help to contest “seriously”, let alone win. Money may not decide, we know, but helps to tilt scales. 

AIADMK that paid Rs 5000 per vote was then led by OPS, former CM, now an ally of NDA. Modi shares dais with both the winner and the runner-up…such rump, corrupt forces, and speaks of his commitment to fight corruption! He had shared dais with Prajwal Revanna, notorious for the thousands of his sex videos, four months after a complaint was made by a BJP leader, and after the issue came up in a court. Nobody except his lap dog media and some gullible people can take his claims of value-based politics, unless value is taken with a different meaning . 

***                            ***

Modi weaves a coalition wooing non-brahmin high priests

Modi Senkol

Photo Courtesy PIB, for PMO: PM installs Sengol at new Parliament building, in New Delhi on May 28, 2023. Modi with high priests of various ‘adheenams’ in Tamil Nadu.  When some critics raised Brahmin question, it was clarified they were all non-brahmin seers. The chief priest of Madurai “is openly pro-BJP, and a strong supporter of PM Modi.”

Many gullible or biased academics thought the non-brahmin, or anti-brahmin movement of Tamilnadu is a barrier to BJP’s Hindutva. But they never delved seriously into the Tamil society.

Politics of Sengol : A counter to DMK and others

See the following for the politics of Sengol:

Annamalai, former IPS officer, is a non-brahmin, of the dominant Gounder caste in west Tamilnadu, who was picked up by Modi to head the Tamilnadu BJP… “displaying strong intent to take the DMK head on in terms of corruption and dynasty politics, the party’s national leaders undertake such spiritual wooing exercise,” says a report on Sengol affair, by news18.com, May 29, 2023…

“ Headed by a largely secular chief priest Gnanasambanda Desikar Paramacharya, the Madurai Adheenam, the largest of all, is now helmed by a Chief Harihara Desikar, who is openly pro-BJP and a strong supporter of PM Modi…

“ Amid the uncertainty, a clear political strain is shining through, as the BJP has literally handed itself a powerful historical artefact to drive home two significant points: it will plumb its roots to draw powerful evidences of Hindu/Hindutva rituals, practices, and attributes to position itself ahead of the 2024 elections, and secondly, the party will attempt to make inroads in states where it has been kept at bay for decades – Tamil Nadu, for example.

“ The Adheenams in Tamil Nadu follow the Saivite culture and are headed by non-brahmin seers. In many ways, the Adheenams have been resistant to the Brahmin hold over Hindu religious activity and ritualistic superiority..

Modi visited Tamilnadu around a dozen times in the run up to the April 2024 polls,  worshiped with pomp and piety in many temples of Tamilnadu including  Rameswaram on 2024 Jan 20, linking them with his grand Ayodhya show on Jan 22nd, recited from Kamba Ramayanam in Tamil. He regularly quoted, even in international meets, from Tirukkural, wore traditional Tamil dress, brought out and installed Sengol in parliament  and indulged in all antics to woo Tamils.

“In a course correction, the BJP had clearly signalled a change to its Tamil Nadu strategy, since the appointment of L Murugan (SC -Arundhatiyar), and his Vel Yatra in Tamil Nadu; to woo the dominant non-brahmin castes.”

“The Sengol and the wooing of the Adheenams need to be seen in the context of this drive, a larger political plan to find allies across the spiritual and caste spectrum that would diversify the BJP’s traditional voter base.

https://www.news18.com/explainers/bjp-sengol-parliament-tamil-nadu-adheenam-dmk-caste-politics-electoral-gain-7942999.html

They did not care to see how worst casteism was breeding under its very nose. Nor they understood BJP which they believed was merely a Brahmin-bania party. They were myopic. This author had asserted it is an under-estimation of the BJP, one of the two major teams of pro-imperialist, pro-Big Business Indian ruling classes rooted in semi-feudalism.

“Tamilnadu government runs around 44, 000 Hindu temples”

Hindutva influence in Tamilnadu grew under the very nose of the two major Periyarist parties. It paved the ground for BJP’s growth there: According to Karti (son of top Congress leader) Chidambaram, Tamilnadu government runs around 44, 000 Hindu temples (the highest density), apart from Vedic and Hindu spiritual schools.

Some academics suggested priests should be from among SCs and BCs: Tamilnadu has been engaged in that, paying salaries and stipends. It does not strenghten secular, rationalistic or scientific views simply because the trainees are from  ‘lower’ castes.

 It is part of appeasement of Hindutva forces by governments that claim to be Periyarists. Under them it has been caste (mainly dalit) oppression by non-Brahmin, intermediary castes, and not by Brahmins.

Some dalit scholar-activists  explained the phenomenon, summing up experiences of recent decades: Thol Thirumavalan in AP and Katti Padma Rao of AP are among them. So did Anand Teltumbde.

The oppressors now are the new landlord classes that arose after so-called land reforms by ruling classes. Veteran communist revolutionary DV Rao called it as ‘reform of landlordism,’ from old feudalism into new forms, so as to resurrect it. 

It is almost 50 years since Yadav sena, kurmi sena and the like, hailing from intermediate castes, hunted and massacred landless poor, including SCs and STs, particularly in Bihar. BC landlord classes, more in numbers and more ruthless, mostly replaced the old feudals of higher castes, and CMs in large states have been from Sudra communities. In Tamilnadu, non-Brahmin CMs dominated for a century, since days of Justice Party rule.    

Non- or anti-brahmin movement has outlived its purposes, long ago. Those scholars who harp on them, on power to sudras, are only helping the new oppressors, knowingly or otherwise. Tamilnadu progressives and leftists will not advance one inch unless they fight ruling classes represented by DMK and AIADMK, and organize the rural poor, including the SCs and STs, for agrarian revolution. In the absence of such efforts, BJP is making an entry as a third alternative.

“ Although the Dravidian parties which dominate the politics of Tamil Nadu are ideologically committed to the eradication of the caste system, Thirumavalavan argues that they have in practice drifted away from the original ideals of the Dravidian movement. Their policies, he says, have mainly benefited the middle castes, and had actually led to an increase in the oppression of Dalits, with the middle castes replacing the Brahmins as the oppressor. Dalits cannot and should not expect much help from the Dravidian parties. (The Hindu, cited by wikipedia)

It is not Modi’s charisma that wins elections, particularly in south, as projected by BJP and a servile media.Then what is behind the BJP’s push in the South?

This series with the above theme reviewed BJP’s degenerate, corrupt and hypocritical politics, run with the help of local dynasts and vested interests, with the goal to make a mark in the South, particularly outside Karnataka. Even there, it is such vested interests that dominate, and provide a handle to rake up rabid Hindutva.

It is only such forces in Tamilnadu that emboldened Modi-led BJP. See this:       

“ Modi gave a clarion call to wipe out the DMK-led alliance in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.  Addressing a public meeting near Kanniyakumari on March 15, he also called the DMK an enemy of Tamil Nadu, its people, culture and language.”

Such is the audacity of Modi-led BJP, aided by a section of ruling classes who swear by Periyarist politics. It is for Tamil people to stand up.

A Review is needed on all these matters after June 4 election results, particularly of Tamilnadu. 

***                                ***

About this series

This series began with part-1 titled: India’s is a ‘constitutional autocracy’ : Hereditary ruling classes are inherent in India, said Ambedkar ( 17/04/2024)

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/indias-is-a-constitutional-autocracy-hereditary-ruling-classes-are-inherent-in-india-said-ambedkar

Part-2 “ Beware of Parliamentary Democracy”, warned Ambedkar and added, “Hereditary ruling classes are inherent in it” (19/04/2024)

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/beware-of-parliamentary-democracy-warned-ambedkar-and-added-hereditary-ruling-classes-are-inherent-in-it

Part-3 Hypocrisy on dynastic politics : Modi’s BJP has its own political families (22/04/2024)

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/hypocrisy-on-dynastic-politics-modis-bjp-has-its-own-political-families

 Part 4 : The Karnataka story: Modi’s charisma is a myth, BJP banks on corrupt political families  to make a dent in the South  (28/04/2024) 

https://countercurrents.org/2024/04/ambedkar-on-dynastic-politics-part-4-the-karnataka-story

Part-5: Hypocrisy on dynastic politics : Modi-led BJP woos several ‘family-owned parties’ to make a dent in the Telugu States,  AP and Telangana (09/05/2024)

https://countercurrents.org/2024/05/hypocrisy-on-dynastic-politics-modi-led-bjp-woos-several-family-owned-parties-to-make-a-dent-in-the-telugu-states-ap-and-telangana

Read also a companion piece

Brazen Anti-Muslim rhetoric by Modi exposes his sab ka sath, sab ka vikas claims, and recalls his rabid Gujarat- Godhra past

https://countercurrents.org/2024/05/brazen-anti-muslim-rhetoric-by-modi-belies-his-sab-ka-sath-sab-ka-vikas-claims-and-recalls-his-rabid-gujarat-past

**                         ***

And articles on a biased, pliant Election Commission

The Election Commission has been a pliant and tainted machinery, more so in Modi regime. EAS Sarma, former Secretary of Union Govt, exposed in a series of letters:

(see for eg: Election Commission’s assurance to conduct “One Nation, One Election” casts doubts about its independence.

https://countercurrents.org/2023/09/election-commissions-assurance-to-conduct-one-nation-one-election-casts-doubts-about-its-independence

The EC winks even as Modi and BJP brazenly exploit religion, god, and all primordial instincts, he wrote. The EC is playing an active role to favor NDA.

***    ***

Appendix:  Three conventions held in Tamilnadu

Three conventions were subsequently held by different forces against the caste oppression in  Periyarist Tamilnadu. Hundreds of activists of various hues attended them, in Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore, between July and December 2023.

The first one was a Seminar on Right to Life of Anti-caste Couples in Chennai on July 8, 2023, addressed also by Mrs. Kanimozhi, DMK MP. The keynote address  was by V Ramani, General Secretary of Caste Annihilation Front. Prof Saraswati of PUCL and BS Ajeetha, Advocate, of Unorganized Workers’ Federation were among the speakers.

caste

It was followed by another in Madurai, with the initiative of com Pandian. And later the third was an Anti-caste convention held by a different set of forces in Coimbatore, in mid-December of 2023.

Their significance can be understood by the fact that a Tamil version of the summary of the articles published in Countercurrents.org could not be published, despite efforts by some friends: Even progressive or liberal magazines were not ready to publish it.  

The Conventions were just a beginning of the long journey ahead.

(Ramakrishnan is a political observer who contributed to countercurrents.org)

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