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'Modi Go Back': How Tamil Nadu rose against the PM during his Chennai visit

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 12 April 2018, 20:24 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plans of impressing the people of Tamil Nadu by holding the 10th edition of the mega biennial event (DefExpo) in the state backfired completely after a sea of black flags and balloons greeted him on his visit.

Agitated over Modi government's delaying Supreme Court's directions to set up the Cauvery Management Board, hundreds of protestors dressed in black took to streets to express their displeasure. In fact, black flags were hoisted on houses across the state in protest.

The widespread protests led to the Prime Minister choosing a helicopter to reach the venue where he inaugurated the Land, Naval and Internal Homeland Security Systems Exhibition. The four day exhibition was opened by Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Wednesday, but it was Modi who inaugurated it on the second day which some exhibitors found to be bizarre.

Meanwhile, Modi reached the Meenambakkam airport in Chennai in the morning which led to scores of activists raising slogans and holding placards with “Modi Go Back” written on them. In his bid to avoid the protestors, the Prime Minister took a helicopter to reach the venue which led to protestors releasing black balloons in the air.

The massive protests across Chennai led to traffic snarls across the city.

After attending the DefExpo, the Prime Minister was scheduled to travel to IIT Madras in the heart of the city. However, he was forced to take a chopper as Opposition parties dared him to travel by road. In his bid to avoid the protestors, Modi took a chopper to visit IIT campus. Once he deboarded, he had to take a car to reach the Adyar Cancer Institute situated within the campus. In the campus, Modi was yet again greeted by protestors holding placards.

Even netizens took to Twitter to protest against the Prime Minister's visit using the hashtag #GoBackModi which was one of the top trends of the day.

Meanwhile, actor turned politician Kamal Haasan tweeted an open letter to the Prime Minister along with a video appeal wherein he is seeking an immediate intervention on the Cauvery issue. In his appeal, Haasan can be heard saying that the delay in setting up of the Cauvery Management Board is primarily because of BJP's political interests in Karnataka which goes to polls next month.

“I think with your previous experience for Narmada Water Board Authority, you could easily deliver the justice that Tamil Nadu is seeking. Both pundits and pedestrians alike suspect and believe that this delay in getting justice is due to the elections in Karnataka and your interests in it. I want this belief to be dispelled for people are more important than elections," he mentioned in his video appeal.

Haasan also sent an open letter wherein he is seeking an intervention by the prime minister himself on setting up the Cauvery Management Board.

Modi must be utterly disappointed by the kind of response he received in the state considering BJP has major plans to make giant political inroads. Ever since the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, BJP was hoping to piggyback on AIADMK's cadre base to establish itself as a political force in the state where it had no presence whatsoever.

Many believe that the whole idea of holding the DefExpo in the state was conceived with the intent to sway the electorate. It was also supposed to be a major event for defence minister Sitharaman, who hails from Tamil Nadu.

It is no secret that the incumbent state government is taking direct orders from the BJP leadership which many believe has turned the AIADMK into BJP's B-team. This has not only hurt the BJP but also the AIADMK which has become a shadow of its former self. Modi and BJP president Amit Shah's plans on making a grand entry in the state have been hit by the Cauvery bomb which has further weakened its chances of making any political impact in the state in the near future. On the contrary, the party appears to have become a liability in the state.

The people of the state see BJP, particularly Modi, responsible for not implementing the Apex Court's order on the Cauvery issue. And if the BJP continues to ignore the demands of the people of the state, it
should gear up to face their wrath.

In fact, in the RK Nagar bye-polls held in December, BJP received less votes than NOTA and it could be the same story whenever elections are held next.

Overall, BJP's ambition of taking control of the southern states to improve its tally in the 2019 elections has taken a major hit considering how protests against Modi government are gaining momentum in states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

In these two states, parties opposed to BJP have raised the banner of revolt against the central government, which will have serious political repercussions. With Modi's popularity hitting an all time low at least in the south, protests against the central government spreading across southern states does not bode well for Modi's bid for a second term as prime minister.

First published: 12 April 2018, 20:32 IST