Annamalai’s yatra pared down to basics

Public meetings in key places, job fairs, and youth and women conclaves were part of the initial plan. Party functionaries say it was a strategic decision to drop them make the yatra more effective

Updated - October 01, 2023 01:40 pm IST

Published - September 30, 2023 10:20 pm IST

State BJP president K. Annamalai  participating in the ‘En Mann, En Makkal’  rally in Udhagamandalam on Wednesday.

State BJP president K. Annamalai participating in the ‘En Mann, En Makkal’ rally in Udhagamandalam on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: M. SATHYAMOORTHY

The second phase of Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai’s En Mann En Makkal yatra has come to an end this week. The third phase of the yatra is planned from October 4 to October 31, covering around 40 assembly constituencies in the western and delta regions.

While the momentum and turnout have significantly increased in the second phase compared to the first phase, according to party leaders, a look back at the yatra showed that it had dropped many of the original components it was conceived with initially.

As many as 11 major public meetings named ‘Thamarai malarum maanadu’ were planned in key places. In the first two phases of the yatra, they should have happened in Madurai, Tirunelveli, Tenkasi, Coimbatore, and The Nilgiris. However, barring a moderate-sized meeting in Tirunelveli in which Union Minister Bhupender Yadav participated, the meetings did not happen anywhere else.

Similarly, as per the original plan, youth conclaves under the banner ‘Nalaya Tamizhagam’ and women conclaves under the banner ‘Singapenne’ were planned for Mr. Annamalai to interact with large number of women and youth. Such conclaves did not happen.

Four job fairs by the party were planned in Nagercoil, Coimbatore, Madurai and Chennai. While the yatra has already covered the first three places, the job fairs were not organised as part of the yatra.

K.S. Narendran, State vice-president of the BJP, who is in-charge of the yatra, said that many of these plans, especially the conclaves with focus groups, were dropped mainly because of time constraints. He said the party did not expect the response to be so overwhelming that Mr. Annamalai had to spend the maximum amount of time in direct public engagement on the road.

He said the advice from the party’s central leadership was also to reach out to general public directly. “The present format of the yatra works well for that purpose strategically,” he said. He added that youth, women and members from the industrial sector were now participating in the yatra instead of the earlier plan of Mr. Annamalai meeting them separately.

S. Amar Prasad Reddy, State president, Sports and Skill Development Cell, and joint in-charge of the yatra, said there was at least a two to three fold increase in public participation in the second phase. He said a key reason for cancelling the public meetings was the non-availability of Union Ministers who were supposed to participate in them.

He said that the Assembly constituencies where these meetings were supposed to happen had been skipped in the yatra. “We will organise meetings there at a later stage,” he said. He added that some of the plans were dropped so as to not burden the party workers since they had to keep the momentum till 2024 election.

Another senior leader, on anonymity, alleged that meetings organised initially with women’s groups and non-governmental organisations ran into problems as they were reprimanded by the government. “They worked with the government and hence expressed inconvenience in openly joining the yatra. Such meetings are now happening without any limelight,” he said.

Annamalai to go to Delhi

Meanwhile, Mr. Annamalai is flying to Delhi for a two-day trip on Sunday. He is expected to meet with the top brass after the AIADMK exited from the National Democratic Alliance. He will be back in Chennai for the party functionaries’ meeting and core committee meeting of the party on Tuesday.

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