The plans of the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu to seal its alliance for the April 6 Assembly elections well ahead of its rival, the DMK, has run into heavy weather, as predicted by The Federal, due to Shylockian demands of prospective allies and its own gross error of overplaying the PMK card. Both the BJP and the DMDK have rejected the AIADMK offers, forcing the AIADMK leaders to get into a huddle on March 1.
Thefederal.com had, in earlier articles, pointed out that while the AIADMK may gloat over its tie-up with the PMK, the arrangement and undue importance to the PMK would lead to heartburning in the alliance, especially in the BJP and DMDK camps.
The AIADMK thought it had done a smart move by restricting the Vanniyar-based PMK to just 23 seats though the latter was known to demand at least 35 seats as the “number two party” in the alliance. In a trade-off, the PMK reduced its number to 23 having got its main demand of a Vanniyar sub-quota of 10.5 per cent carved out of the Most Backward Classes (MBC) quota. Since the AIADMK projected the PMK as the number two party in the alliance, it hoped to use this and cut the other allies to size. They would be asked to settle for much less than 23, and thus enable the AIADMK to contest at least 180 of 234 seats up for grabs in the state.
Things soured on February 28 night when the BJP national leaders led by Union Home Minister Amit Shah reportedly ticked off the AIADMK for trying to reduce its numbers to something around 15 seats just because the PMK agreed to only 23. The BJP leaders are understood to have driven home the point that the BJP had the biggest influence in the state through the campaigns of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. These leaders stressed that Modi’s campaigns have determined the electoral fortunes in several states. If the AIADMK had to outperform the DMK-led front, BJP leaders particularly Modi had an important role to play. Therefore, they stuck to the demand for 35 seats.
The BJP has also caused a shock in the AIADMK camp by asking the party to consider inclusion of the AMMK (led by Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dinakaran) in the front as an alliance partner if not agree to a merger of the AMMK with the AIADMK. That the suggestion was made to the AIADMK though the latter rejected it outright, created shock-waves in the AIADMK camp. Fresh from February 28 three-hour marathon talks, AIADMK top leaders met at the party headquarters with its seniors to discuss this situation. The AIADMK top leadership is against any truck with the AMMK, but it wonders how to convey their rejection to the BJP. After all, BJP is the ‘master’ of the alliance.
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Another issue is the way the PMK is being treated in the alliance compared to other allies like the BJP and the DMDK.
The hasty arrangement with the PMK to beat the Election Commission deadline has thrown a spanner in the works as the AIADMK’s 2019 allies like the BJP and the DMDK have cried foul. Talks between an AIADMK minister and the Vijayakanth-led DMDK, scheduled for March 1, had to be abruptly cancelled as the DMDK representatives failed to show up. An embarrassed AIADMK was silent about the developments while the DMDK treasurer Premalatha Vijayakanth made it clear that the party would prefer to go it alone rather an accept “humiliation” in the form of a downgraded status in the front.
Thefederal.com had, in earlier articles, pointed out that while the AIADMK may gloat over its tie-up with the PMK, the arrangement and undue importance to the PMK would lead to heartburning in the alliance especially in the DMK camp.
The BJP is not restrained by the PMK’s 23 seat share and clearly wants close to 30 seats. It knows that the AIADMK leadership is not a strong one, and could buckle to pressure, especially with several ministers worried about action by central investigative agencies. The AIADMK has also had to depend on support from Union ministers while facing tough situations in courts over disqualification of 18 MLAs belonging to the Dinakaran group, the pending issue of disqualification against 12 MLAs including deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, and the Radhapuram recount case pending in the Supreme Court.
Similarly, the DMDK is aghast over the AIADMK offer of just 10 seats to the party, though it was considered number one in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the state, ahead of the BJP, PMK and MDMK. DMDK leaders, participating in the talks with the AIADMK, have rubbished suggestions that the party vote bank had shrunk in as proved in 2016 and 2019 polls.
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Vijayakanth’s son, Vijay Prabhakaran, has hit out at the “humiliation’ by the AIADMK and said the party would never accept a humiliating deal. The DMDK faced such situations earlier too in 2019 when it was offered few seats as compared to the PMK. It even resorted to secret talks with a top DMK leader to send out a message to the AIADMK that it was exploring other options. However, this time the DMK has not given room for the DMDK to play one against the other and therefore the AIADMK thinks that the DMDK has no option but to accept its deal.
The AIADMK alliance has run into roadblocks.