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Islamic radicals sprouted under CPM, DMK rule - The Observer

K V Lakshmana and Suresh Unnithan ()
March 12, 1998

Title: slamic radicals sprouted under CPM, DMK rule
Author: K V Lakshmana and Suresh Unnithan
Publication: The Observer
Date: March 12, 1998

BJP's deputy leader in Rajya Sabha 0 Rajagopal, a hardcore RSS
adherent, was confident of breaking into the Dravidian bastion
even though psephologists and political pundits scoffed at the
idea two months ago. The strategic alliance with Jayalalitha and
the attempt on L K Advani's life in the serial bomb blasts in
Coimbatore firmly placed the AIADMK-BJP alliance ahead of the
ruling DMK-TMC combine. The results only baffled those who were
out of touch with the ground realities. Another significant
factor for the victory, in his opinion, was the Sangh Parivar's
hardwork. In an exclusive interview to K V Lakshmana and Suresh
Unnithan at his official residence in New Delhi, he explains how
the South was won by the BJP.

What is the reason for the triumph of your party in Tamil Nadu?

First of all, we were in Tamil Nadu politics for the past two
decades at least. Moreover, the Sangh has been having its network
for the past 55 years there. So it was the culmination of our
consistent efforts.

In what way the alliance with the AIADMK has helped the BJP?

Though the Sangh Parivar had erected a strong organisational base
in the State, the BJP so far was confined to the margins of the
State politics that was polarised between the two Dravidian
parties. But this time, the tie-up with the AIADMK brought the
BJP into the mainstream of State politics. For the first time,
the BJP has also become a central player in the State politics.

According to you, why did the people of Tamil Nadu reject the
ruling DMK-TMC?

There had been a great erosion in the DMK-TMC support, mainly due
to bitterness between the two alliance partners. The DMK
leadership always watched TMC with suspicion. The DMK suspected
the latter of crossing over to the Congress after polls.
Moreover, Tamil superstar Rajnikant, who had supported the
alliance in 1996, was critical of the DMK-TMC rule this time. In
1996, the prime issue was corruption and in this election, it was

Did you feel the AIADMK could recapture lost ground?

In fact, the AIADMK had not only retained its support base but
enhanced it. The local elections held last year had proved it
beyond doubt. They were also able to storm many DMK strongholds.

The newly forged BJP-AIADMK alliance, includes regional forces
like Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Marumartchi Dravida Munnetra
was a powerful social combination. The PMK has considerable clout
in northern Tamil Nadu districts, and MDMK in the south. Moreover
both these parties have a strong organisational structure and
dependable cadre.

Except the BJP, all other parties in the State were pro-LTTE in
one way or other.

Did the blast help your party electorally.

The Coimbatore blast gave the final blow to the ruling DMKTMC
combine. The blast caused at least 10 per cent swing against the
ruling alliance. The Coimbatore constituency which elected the
BJP candidate with a margin of over 1.45 lakh this time. In 1996
the DMK had won the seat with a margin of 2.5 lakh. This clearly
tells the magnitude of swing.

The serial blast cannot be seen as an isolated incident. It is
the culmination of a long history of the activities of the
Islamic fundamentalists in the region. Of late, Coimbatore has
become the nerve centre of Islamic fundamentalism.

According to you, who are the prime minister targets of the so-
call Islamic fundamentalist?

The Islamic fundamentalists are targetting the Hindu
organisations and its leaders, for these organisations were
constantly exposing the activities of these fundamentalists. The
very same Al-Umma chief, Kovai Pasha, who Is alleged involved in
the Coimbatore blast was responsible for assaulting BJP vice-
president Jana Krishnamoorthy in 1984. Just after that Hindu
Munnani State organiser Ramgopal was attacked. In the past couple
of years more than half-a-dozen Sangh parivar activists were
killed by the Islamic fundamentalists in the State.

Why they are concentrated in Coimbatore?

There are strategically important Muslim pockets like Ukkadam and
Kottaimedu near the Coimbatore city. The Islamic fundamentalists
have made these pockets their sanctuary because these places are
close to the Kerala border. Once they execute their 'mission'
the slip to Kerala. In Kerala, they have safe hideouts in
Malappuram and Palakkad. Moreover the CPM-led Government in
Kerala is also shielding these elements for furthering its vote-
bank politics. Some senior officials in the office of the Kerala
Chief Minister have been protecting the Islamic fundamentalists
in the State. Some of the key suspects in the Coimbatore blasts
were recently arrested from Thrissur, Kerala.

There is definite information about these elements. Most of them
have been trained by the ISI. They have been trained to handle
sophisticated fire arms and explosives like RDX, in Kashmir.
They further imparted training to youth In Kerala and the
bordering areas of Tamil Nadu.

Was Hindu resurgence the reason for the spurt of Islamic

No. They are perhaps referring to the Hindu Munnani in Tamil Nadu
that was fighting mass conversions. In 1982, the Hardans in
Meenakshipuram, Ramnathapuram district, were converted to Islam
using foreign funds. To contain such conversion activities, the
Hindu Munnani launched a vigorous campaign to educate the poor
Harijans in the State.

Hindu Munnani became the target of the Islamic fundamentalists as
they were exposed by the former. The Communists in Kerala and
the DMK In Tamil Nadu created a political climate wherein the
Hindus were looked down upon. These two parties gave legitimacy
to all anti-Hindu activities of Islamic fundamentalist forces.

Despite the strong RSS presence with around 4,500 sakhas in
Kerala, why has the BJP been unable to gain politically?

Unlike in Tamil Nadu, in Kerala. we are out of the two Fronts -
the LDF and the UDF - and have to fight a lone battle. Besides
the minority votes, around 45 per cent, play an important role in
the electoral politics m the State.

Until and unless the BJP manages to break into either of the
political spaces, it would be difficult to advance. And, both
these fronts are sworn enemies of the BJP. It is a unique
situation, not found anywhere else in the country. But this is
changing and a BJP Government at the Centre would help in
furthering the cause of the BJP in the State.

The Left and the Congress blame each other for BJP growth. What
is the reality? Are you really growing in Kerala?

Now what they ask is, who will prevent the BJP. Since at the
national level too, this kind of a fight has broken out amongst
the two political forces ranged against the BJP, it would only
benefit the BJP, even in Kerala.

If the BJP Government in

New Delhi performs well, it win have a positive impact on the
overall prospects of the party in Kerala. Since the Congress is
a sinking ship, the people of Kerala will find in the BJP a
viable alternative.

What is your strategy in Andhra Pradesh, where the Congress is
still a potent force?

Even in Andhra, the BJP has emerged as a potent political force.
Of course, now Laxmi Parvathi has gone her own way.

But' it does not matter as the TDP, led by Naidu, and the BJP are
natural allies, in that both have a common enemy in the Congress
and together they can become a formidable political force.

If Chandrababu Naidu is thinking of helping in the installation

of a BJP-led Government at the Centre, it is not because of any
altruistic motives.

Very clearly he has his own survival upper most in his mind as
the elections have shown that his own TDP is going down.

Coupled with this is the increasing vote share of the BJP, which
has won seats from the coastal Andhra region, a prospect that not
many dreamt of four months ago. Naidu any day will become a
strong alliance partners with the BJP.

For, the Bharatiya Janata Party in Andhra Pradesh has still not
come to such a stage in which it can dislodge the TDP as the main

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