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PM Modi’s Chennai Visit to Launch Jaya’s Pet Scheme Hints at Changing Political Equations

Opposition parties in the state have already dubbed the visit as a sign that the EK Palaniswami government is being remote-controlled by the BJP.

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:February 24, 2018, 9:43 AM IST
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PM Modi’s Chennai Visit to Launch Jaya’s Pet Scheme Hints at Changing Political Equations
File photo of PM Narendra Modi (Associated Press)
Chennai: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Saturday travel to Chennai to launch a state government scheme that will give women a Rs 25,000 crore subsidy to women to buy scooters.

The visit coincides with the 70th birth anniversary of late chief minister Jayalalithaa and is being seen as a precursor to the cementing of changing political equations in Tamil Nadu. The scooter scheme was the brainchild of the AIADMK party martriach, who had promised a 50% subsidy on two-wheelers for working women before the 2016 Assembly election.

Opposition parties in the state have already dubbed the visit as a sign that the EK Palaniswami government is being remote-controlled by the BJP.

"Prime Minister Modi is legitimising a dysfunctional, corrupt and unconstitutional government. It is badly kept secret that this ADMK party and its illegitimate government are being remote controlled by BJP. Modi's presence further strengthens people's belief and begins the countdown for both of them," DMK spokesperson Manu Sundaram said.

The Prime Minister’s visit comes amid speculation that all is not well between the OPS and EPS factions of the party. Tamil Nadu’s deputy chief minister O Paneerselvam had revealed recently that the merger of the two factions became possible only with a nudge from Modi.

“He (Modi) said that you (Panneerselvam) could join (merge the faction) to save the party. I agreed but I said I don't want a Cabinet berth and that I will take a party position. Modi said I should continue with politics. That is why I'm a minister today," he said.

RK Radhakrishnan, associate editor of Frontline, said the merged AIADMK is still in a state of utter confusion and the BJP may try to take advantage of it.

“If the EPS-OPS chemistry was better, we could have assumed that this is OPS playing bad cop and EPS cozying up to Modi to handle the repercussions. Given that the EPS-OPS relationship itself is frayed, there is no coherent approach to the BJP’s overtures,” he said.

“OPS realizes that he, as deputy chief minister, is on par with other ministers, and will have to stay behind EPS in protocol. This is another reason for his discomfort. But as long as there is no cohesive strategy on the part of the AIADMK, the BJP is in a position to take advantage and dictate terms," he said.

There are also rumours of tensions between the BJP and the AIADMK, but the latter has shot down the suggestions. When Jayalalithaa's portrait was unveiled in the state Assembly a few weeks ago, there were rumours that PM Modi was invited but had turned down the invitation. AIADMK, however, maintained that the PM was not invited in the first place.

The state government has also sought an appointment with the Modi government over the reduction in its share of Cauvery water. At an all-party meeting, the Tamil Nadu government assured that it will urge the Centre to constitute a Cauvery management board at the earliest.

Political observers, however, feel the Centre is focused on Karnataka elections, and hence, working for the benefit of Tamil Nadu farmers may be a challenge for the BJP.

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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