5 things to know about BJP’s Tamil Nadu padayatra, En Mann En Makkal
State BJP president K Annamalai embarked on a six-month padayatra, titled En Mann En Makkal, from the pilgrim town of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu on Friday (July 28).
The yatra comes about six months after the ending of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which earned him a lot of goodwill.
Here are five interesting facts about the saffron party’s crucial political exercise ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls in the southern state where the DMK — which is part of the Opposition’s INDIA alliance — is in power.
1. A lot in the name
The full name of Annamalai’s padayatra is “En Mann En Makkal — Prathamar Modiyin Tamil Muzhakkam”. This roughly translates to “My Soil, My People — Prime Minister Modi’s Tamil Slogan”.
2. ‘What did Modi do?’
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who flagged off the foot march and walked with Annamalai and other BJP leaders for about half a kilometre on Day 1, also released a booklet on the contributions of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre to Tamil Nadu in the past nine years.
State BJP cadres reportedly plan to distribute 10 lakh copies of the booklet, titled What did Modi do? among the public throughout the yatra.
3. Going the extra mile
The 1,770-km yatra will cover all 39 parliamentary constituencies and 234 assembly segments of Tamil Nadu and is scheduled to end in Chennai on January 11, 2024. Annamalai and other BJP functionaries will reportedly cover over 1,068 km on foot and the remaining by vehicle.
The yatra will be carried out in five phases and will take 168 days, Annamalai has said. BJP MLA Vanathi Srinivasan told the media that at least 11 public meetings have been planned where Union ministers and national BJP leaders will take part.
Annamalai is also scheduled to speak at 100-plus street campaign meetings. According to Vanathi, they may take part in Gram Sabha meetings, too. BJP cadres will also reportedly collect holy soil from major pilgrimage sites in the state and make an idol of “Tamil Mother” with it.
4. Complaint collection
Ahead of the yatra, senior Tamil Nadu BJP leaders, including H Raja, Pon Radhakrishnan, and Vanathi Srinivasan, unveiled a pugaar petti (complaint box) that Annamalai will carry throughout the padayatra. He will reportedly collect complaints from people across the state.
This sounds very similar to current Chief Minister MK Stalin’s “Ungal Thoguthyil Stalin” exercise during the 2021 election campaign.
Media reports quoted Vanathi as saying that Annamalai will meet people during the march and collect complaints from people on the issues they are facing under DMK rule. “We will explain to people how they have been cheated since 1967,” Vanathi has told the media.
— En Mann En Makkal (@EnMannEnMakkal) July 30, 2023
5. The aim – ‘Nationalism of Modi’
Speaking at the flagging-off ceremony on Friday, Amit Shah said the aim of the yatra was to “establish the nationalism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi across Tamil Nadu”.
“This yatra is not only a political Yatra; En Mann En Makkal Yatra is meant to spread the Tamil language worldwide. It is to free Tamil Nadu of dynastic politics and corruption and to improve the law-and-order situation in the state. It is meant to end corruption and start development work,” he said.
“Through the En Mann En Makkal Yatra, Annamalai will establish the nationalism of PM Modi across Tamil Nadu. PM Modi was the first to speak in Tamil, the world’s oldest language, in the UN,” he reminded the people.
There are reports that Modi may participate in the closing ceremony of the En Mann En Makkal Yatra, in January 2024.
(With agency inputs)