This Pongal, all political roads lead to Tamil Nadu

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RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat in Chennai today to celebrate Pongal.

Chennai:

Tamil speakers are celebrating their annual harvest festival over the next four days from today. Coinciding with similar celebrations across the country, such as Bihu in northeast India and Uttarayan in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu’s biggest celebration comes just months ahead of state assembly polls . It is therefore not surprising that key leaders from all political walks of life are ready to make their mark in the midst of events.

RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat, for example, is already in Chennai for a two-day visit. Today, he offered prayers in Pongal at the Sri Kadumbadi Chinnamman temple in the locality of Ponniammanmedu, in the state capital.

“During his visit, Bhagwat will participate in … Pongal celebrations. He will meet young professionals and start-up owners and also likely to interact with dignitaries. As per his usual schedule, he will review the organization’s work with local officials, “said an RSS press release earlier this week.

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Early this morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his usual wishes in English and Tamil.

His party leader JP Nadda is due to travel to Tamil Nadu today to attend Namma Ooru Pongal (Our Village Pongal), a statewide program, in Chennai.

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The BJP is finally seeking to get out of the political desert of Tamil Nadu this election. Although he has yet to announce a formal alliance for state polls, he has linked with AIADMK in the 2019 national elections.

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, is expected to attend the popular “Jallikattu” event in Madurai district. The Jallikattu tradition, involving raging bulls, has a passionate following in the state. A few years ago, the Supreme Court banned the practice of cruelty to animals, although the central government later legalized it with Tamil sentiments in mind.

Mr. Gandhi’s expected participation in the event was first announced by KS Alagiri, Congress leader of Tamil Nadu. “The bull is a symbol of farmers and is part of their life,” he said earlier this week, according to PTI.

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Congress, though marginal, seeks to maximize its gains through its alliance with the DMK, the state’s main opposition party, which hopes to replace the ruling AIADMK government.

The DMK and AIADMK will fight for the next elections without their biggest icons, Mr. Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa, for the first time in decades.

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