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In BJP’s southern push, where does Tamil Nadu stand: Will DMK remain a neutral force in 2019

By Vicky Nanjappa
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    Chennai, Aug 27: The decision by the DMK to invite BJP chief, Amit Shah for the Karunanidhi memorial meet has raised eyebrows. The DMK however says that there is nothing much to read into the confirmed list of speakers at " The Southern Sun-Meeting of National Political leaders to be held on August 30.

    The DMK was told that Shah would be representing the BJP at the meet. While it was expected that the BJP would send Nirmala Sitharaman for the meet, Shah's presence is now being seen as a loud political message ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

    In BJP’s southern push, where does Tamil Nadu stand: Will DMK remain a neutral force in 2019

    The question now is will Shah make it to the meet. Whether or not he makes it to the meet, the invite extended by the DMK only goes on to show that the party is open to posturing in 2019.

    Loud political messages:

    The BJP is likely to follow a similar strategy in Tamil Nadu as it plans on doing in Telangana and Odisha. The party would not go all out in these states and would hope that the main players such as the TRS, BJD and DMK stay neutral in 2019.

    While the party expects to do well in Karnataka, the verdict at Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Odisha would be crucial for the BJP if the party falls short of the 272 mark in 2019. Sources tell OneIndia that the main players such as the TRS, BJD and DMK are free to join the NDA. However the party is fine if these parties remain neutral and then enter into a post poll alliance if the need be.

    Also Read | 2019 Lok Sabha polls: Will smaller parties be game changers?

    The DMK too has been sending out several messages ahead of the 2019 polls. Sources say that the party would be aiming at coming to power in Tamil Nadu and also have a stake at the centre.

    Karunanidhi's political successor and son, M K Stalin has sent out several messages in the recent past. If Narendra Modi and Amit Shah travelled to Chennai to attend, Karunanidhi's funeral, then Stalin was in Delhi recently to pay his last respects to Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

    There appears to be a clear change in posturing by both the DMK and BJP. Stalin had refused to invite the BJP for a programme held to commemorate Karunanidhi's 60 years in politics. When asked, why the BJP was not invited, Stalin had said that the party does not believe in Dravidian parties. However six months later, there is a change in thinking, with the DMK inviting the BJP for the August 30 meet.

    The BJP's attitude towards the DMK too is a changed one. It may be recalled that Modi had called on an ailing Karunanidhi just a month before the R K Nagar by-poll. There is a section of political observers who believe that the Dinakaran led faction had won the election as many had drifted away from the DMK fearing that it would be in alliance with the BJP, post the Modi visit.

    DMK to stay neutral?

    The DMK is playing its cards very close to its chest. If the R K Nagar verdict is anything to go by, then it becomes clear that Dinakaran could be a major player. There is a chance that he would go with the Congress.

    If these are the combinations that could shape up, then the DMK is likely to stay neutral, sources say. The DMK wants to keep all its options open for now and not reveal anything for now. The BJP on the other hand would like the DMK to stay neutral and then support it post the 2019 poll in the party falls short.

    Also Read | In 2019, BJP to win 227 seats, Congress 78, regional parties 238: Survey

    The presence of Shah at the DMK event is seen as beneficial to both sides. Stalin would want to ensure that the BJP does not use his brother M K Alagiri to stoke trouble. Although his clout is wearing in Tamil Nadu, he could still be an irritant and pull away the focus.

    Stalin's decision to cozy up to the BJP could also do with the fact that many Congress leaders from the Thevar community have been urging Rahul Gandhi to drop the DMK and ally with Dinakaran instead.

    The southern push for the BJP is crucial as there are chances of it losing seats in Uttar Pradesh in case there is a SP-BSP joint fight. The coming together of the two parties has cost the BJP dearly in strong holds such as Gorakhpur. If in the northern states the BJP is unable to repeat its 2014 magic, then the South becomes very crucial.

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