BJP State president L. Murugan has delivered on his promise that the party will have its members in the 16th Assembly. Four BJP candidates won in the April 6 election in the first victory for the party after 20 years.
Although Mr. Murugan lost in Dharapuram (reserved), he has set his sights on the future. He told The Hindu that the work had just begun; he would reach out to areas where the party had no presence.
“The people of Tamil Nadu have definitely accepted the BJP. In fact, they have welcomed us, if you look at the number of votes that our candidates have polled. Even in constituencies where we are not strong, we have polled a large number of votes. In Dharapuram too, without an adequate organisation, we came very close to victory [Mr. Murugan lost by 1,393 votes, polling 88,593 votes]. In Tirunelveli and Nagercoil, we had a very good margin of victory,” he said.
Mr. Murugan said the work put in by the party cadre in the last one year, Vetrivel Yatra, the enrolment of new members and workers of other parties joining the BJP, all contributed to the victory.
Despite having its MLAs in the Assembly, the party will sit on the Opposition benches yet again, as in 2001 when four BJP candidates won as part of the DMK-led alliance. “Unlike in 2001, times are different now. There was a constant rhetoric from a cross-section of political parties that the BJP would not grow in Tamil Nadu and it would not win even one seat. Yet, people believed in the need for the BJP to be present in Tamil Nadu and in Mr. Modi’s leadership. That’s why we have won,” Mr. Murugan said.
He said the BJP MLAs would raise people’s issues in the Assembly; point out the mistakes of the government, if any, and offer suggestions; and work for the welfare of people.
Mr. Murugan said he, his party MLAs, senior leaders and office-bearers would tour the State. “We are going to expand our work to the grassroots. Wherever we don’t have a base, we will go there and make efforts to grow the party,” he said. The AIADMK had won in the 2016 election without the BJP in its alliance. Yet, after the results came in, Union Home Minister Amit Shah wrote on Twitter that “the NDA has served the people of Tamil Nadu in the last five years”.
Asked about it, Mr. Murugan said he must have referred to the AIADMK and the BJP working together as the ruling parties at the Centre and in the State and as NDA partners.