When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tamil Nadu, he was greeted with black flags by opposition parties and fringe groups and with #GoBackModi hashtags on social media.
But during the Chennai visit of Union home minister and BJP leader Amit Shah, there were no black flags, perhaps due to the pandemic. The social media, however, was abuzz with hashtag wars. Those against the BJP used hashtag #GoBackAmitShah, while BJP cadres countered it with #TNwelcomeschanakya.
The tweets by anti-BJP netizens are trying to demonise Shah by using magazine cover images published during the Gujarat riots in 2002. The tweets by BJP followers, on the other hand, only have the image of Shah. Some tweets carry a picture of white-washed walls that a week before had anti-BJP paintings. Some tweeted that Shah’s visit will instil fear among the opposition parties.
When Shah landed in Chennai on Saturday (November 21), he was given a grand welcome. Apart from Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam, senior Cabinet members and BJP state chief L Murugan were present at the airport to receive Shah.
Shah’s unusual gesture
In an unusual gesture, Shah, enroute to his hotel, got down from his car and walked on the road, waving his hands at the crowds.
But during that fleeting moment when Shah was out of his car, a 67-year-old man, identified as Durairaj, threw a placard at him with an anti-Shah slogan. There was a minor scuffle between the protester and BJP cares and the police nabbed him. Shah was oblivious to this incident and continued with his journey.
Durairaj was angered that PM Modi’s promise of paying ₹15 lakh has not yet been fulfilled. According to sources, he created a ruckus a fortnight ago in front of the BJP state head office in Chennai for the same reason.
Two-day visit to review party’s poll strategy
Shah is on a two-day visit during which he will address party workers and review the party’s strategy for the Assembly elections next year. He will also dedicate a new reservoir outside Chennai and lay the foundation stone for projects worth ₹67, 000 crore, including the second phase of the Chennai Metro.
The visit, however, comes amid a strain in the relations between the BJP and the AIADMK, especially after the saffron party went ahead with the ‘Vetri Vel Yatra’ despite the government banning it. The Dravidian party is also peeved by the use of the image of AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran, or ‘MGR’, with that of prime minister Narendra Modi in a campaign video.
While BJP leaders said they want the bonhomie with the AIADMK to continue, the party ruling the state sees Shah’s trip as nothing more than an official visit.
The AIADMK has been helping the Modi government at the Centre push legislation through the Rajya Sabha, where the opposition has an upper hand.
Tamil Nadu goes to polls in a few months in what will be the first state election after the death of two tall leaders of the state’s two main rival parties who had occupied public consciousness for long — J Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK and M Karunanidhi of the DMK. The AIADMK-BJP alliance suffered a massive defeat in Tamil Nadu in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.