With the Tamil Nadu BJP president post lying vacant for the past few months, the sudden visit of Tamil Manila Congress chief G K Vasan to New Delhi and his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday has led to speculations that he may merge his party with the BJP so he can take over as State president.
Vasan however told reporters in New Delhi that it was a courtesy call and reports about merger were just rumours. He said his immediate priority was to strengthen the party and contest local body elections whenever they are held. The TMC does not have a single MLA or MP. So is the case with the BJP in Tamil Nadu.
The Tamil Nadu BJP has been functioning without a head ever since Tamilisai Soundararajan quit the post to take over as Telangana Governor.
Rumours about Vasan joining the BJP have been doing the rounds ever since he quit the Congress in 2014. In May this year, after the DMK-Congress alliance swept the Lok Sabha elections, TNCC president KS Alagiri invited TMC to merge with Congress, but Vasan rejected the invitation.
Modi’s interaction with Vasan at the Chennai airport ahead of the Second Informal India-China Summit strengthened the speculations that the BJP was trying to rope in Vasan as its State unit president.
The TMC was formed by senior leader G K Moopanar in 1996 after breaking away from the Congress in protest against Congress alliance with the corrupt AIADMK under J Jayalalitha. The DMK-TMC swept the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
However, the TMC went into a tailspin after the DMK went with the BJP under A B Vajpayee in 1999. Moopanar went alone in the election and was routed. He also suffered a heart attack. Pressure also mounted from Moopanar’s brother Rangasamy Moopanar and party cadres to go back to the Congress.
He aligned with the AIADMK in 2001, justifying his about-turn by saying corruption was a lesser evil than communalism. After his death, the TMC under G K Vasan went back to the Congress.
Vasan, who served as a Minister in the UPA Government, later quit the Congress and revived the TMC. Since then it has been on the downswing with many leaders deserting him and staying with the Congress.
The only way he can revive the nearly dormant TMC is by merging it with the BJP. The BJP believes, erroneously that old Moopanar loyalists are still with TMC under Vasan or that he commands as much mass appeal as Moopanar had in his heydays. But, like in the Congress, the central leadership calls the shots in BJP also. The State leaders may sulk and Delhi line will prevail.