Battle For South: BJP Says Not Just A Token Fight

New Delhi, Apr 12: Vowing to put up more that just a token fight, the BJP today claimed it would have an “impressive presence” in the new Tamil Nadu and Kerala Assemblies and emerge as
battle for south bjp says not just a token fight...
PTI April 12, 2011 22:27 IST

New Delhi, Apr 12: Vowing to put up more that just a token fight, the BJP today claimed it would have an “impressive presence” in the new Tamil Nadu and Kerala Assemblies and emerge as an “effective” opposition.  The party also derided the Congress campaign in the southern states, saying the remarks of its leaders showed that it was run without any application of mind.

“In the three southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pudducherry, we did not have a single MLA. So people thought this time also we would put up a token fight,” senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who is election in-charge of BJP in the three states, said on her return to the capital today after campaigning.

“But I had said on the first day of campaigning itself that it would not be a token fight. This message has percolated down to the party cadre,” she said.

Asked how many seats the party was expecting in these states, the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha insisted that BJP would have an “impressive presence” in these Assemblies.

Interestingly, Swaraj maintained that BJP has sought votes in these states with the promise that it will become an “effective opposition” in the assembly.

“Without making any tall claims, we said we cannot form a government here but want to be an effective opposition.  Since we have effectively raised issues like Sabarimala stampede and killing of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, people have hopes of an effective opposition from the BJP,” Swaraj said.

She claimed this view was strengthened also because the other parties in the fray have failed in the past in their role as the Opposition.

Swaraj ruled out any post-poll alliance with the dominant parties in the South, saying there were major ideological differences between them and the BJP.

“Our role is to sit in the opposition,” she said.

Taking a dig at the Congress campaign, Swaraj said, “The Congress President twice, some say thrice, during her campaign asked for support to the LDF (Left Democratic Front). She could have corrected herself. Or retracted later when it was pointed out but it remained like that,” she said.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's statement about Kerala Chief Minister V Achutanandan being too old at 87-years also invited comments from Swaraj.

“Rahul Gandhi forgot that Congress has an alliance with DMK whose leader M Karunanidhi is the same age as Achutanandan. There was complete lack of application of mind here too,” she said, adding that Rahul had even campaigned in Tamil Nadu for the alliance.

She stated that union minister V Narayansamy had made “most condemnable” statements against women in Pudducherry.

“Narayansamy, who is a minister in the PMO, said in a women's meeting that we are giving you everything free except babies. We have demanded from the Congress President and Prime Minister for action against him,” Swaraj said.

Another reported statement from the minister that Congress has given cell phones to women so that they fight with their husbands and would give more cell phones so that they can fight more also drew the ire of the BJP.

The right-wing party maintained that price rise and corruption were the main issues in the southern states, especially Tamil Nadu.

Asked about Anna Hazare's agitation, Swaraj said it had found an echoe in the elections and had added to the BJP's campaign.

Swaraj claimed that the manner in which both LDF and UDF were making allegations of “clandestine deals” between their rivals and the BJP shows her party has bright prospects.

“A CPI general secretary has said BJP is likely to win in Nemom, Manjeswaram, Pallakad and Kasargod as it has a secret deal with the UDF as we supported Congress on the pension bill,” Swaraj said.

The UDF, she maintained, was alleging that there was a deal between BJP and LDF as the latter are not putting up candidates against them in some constituencies.

“So, both Fronts claim we (BJP) are winning. We do not have any clandestine alliance but an open alliance with the people of Kerala,” Swaraj said.

The BJP is hoping to cash-in on, what it claims to be, the strong anti-incumbency in the three southern states against the ruling party and utter disappointment with the central government. PTI

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