Both the BJP and Congress, which normally appeal to the nationalistic convictions of the voters, have been whipping up Tamil pride more than ever to win the confidence of the voters in the Dravidian hinterland.
Their newfound interest in Tamil culture was evident from their recent Pongal celebrations in the state.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and BJP national president JP Nadda descended on Tamil Nadu the same day to lead Pongal celebrations in the state. Rahul did not just stop with the celebrations. That he had claimed that he had come to stop the ruling BJP from suppressing Tamil culture had allayed doubts, if any, over the national parties’ interest in raising Tamil pride for electoral rise in the state.
Curiously, it was state BJP president L Murugan, who had preempted the Congress and celebrated Pongal ahead of the Tamil month of Thai.
Murugan, in fact, had organised rallies towards the abode of Lord Muruga in the state, to appeal to the sentiments of the state people in their own spiritual way.
It might not be an understatement to comprehend that the BJP had outperformed Congress on the issue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invoking Tamil heritage, especially Tirukkural and Poet Bharatiyar with an element of regularity, sometimes even in apolitical global conventions like the UN meet. The BJP, in fact, should owe it to its MP Tarun Vijay, who was among the first to celebrate Tiruvalluvar. So much so that he attempted to erect a statue for the Tamil poet in the banks of Ganga in the cow belt.
Congress, which was not as effective as its rival BJP in improvising on the issue, had named Rahul’s Pongal visit “Rahulin Tamil Vanakkam” (Rahul’s Tamil Hello), which is expected to continue in a few days when he visits western Tamil Nadu for reviving the party’s fortunes in the state.
A state Congress leader who admitted to the party playing the Tamil pride card, which was largely the preserve of Dravidian and Tamil nationalist parties largely thus far, said the political situation in the state was different from north and using Tamil pride would have more purchase in the state.
Claiming that they were not late in playing the Tamil card, the TNCC leader said their leader Rahul had invoked the issue even during the Lok Sabha poll campaign and he had succeeded in it.