The ruling AIADMK has come clear on its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly polls. The announcement by AIADMK coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam that the party will latch on to the Central big-brother has been echoed out by Chief Minister and AIADMK deputy coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami as well. This puts to end rumours that the regional party would break its alliance and go on its own.
On November 21, at a government function at Kalaivanar Arangam in Chennai, both EPS and OPS, in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, said the AIADMK would ‘enter the Assembly’ for the third time with the BJP on its side. The AIADMK-BJP alliance, formed during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, was, from right then, perceived as the national party’s bid to expand its base to the south.
The BJP has been trying hard to gain a foothold in the state by aligning with the Dravidian major. Given the BJP’s Hindutva agenda, the natural ally in TN would be the AIADMK. The AIADMK does not outrightly reject a Hindutva philosophy but is not opposed to the larger ally pursuing it.
The AIADMK is also not intrinsically against the larger themes and motifs of Hindutva, unlike its counterpart DMK.
The BJP’s efforts to join hands with the AIADMK in 2014, when J. Jayalalithaa was alive, had gone in vain. The BJP was able to strike a deal only after her death.
The saffron party has been playing its cards well and it is widely believed that the party instigated OPS to revolt against Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala, thereby creating a faction in the party. However, after some ‘persuasion’ and nudge, there is no at least no open rift. Both EPS and OPS appear to be on the same page, at least for political propriety and to send a message of unity to the ranks.
In the past years, the BJP strategists and foot soldiers were trying hard to test out its various ‘experiment’ on the ground in Tamil Nadu. Most of the activities of the party, including its meetings, statements by leaders, and campaigns, were perceived as techniques to polarise the public on communal grounds. A certain amount of credit should also go to the AIADMK and the state government for resisting the BJP even while being on its side. In the latest, EPS, in a display of uncommon wisdom and courage, whipped out his Chief Ministerial powers to say that the BJP’s Vel Yatra will not be allowed in the state. The BJP had planned it with much fanfare but the underlying communal agenda was amply clear.
The BJP-AIADMK squabbles are a known matter, given the state government’s tacit refusal to toe a ‘true Hindutva’ line and push the BJP agenda.
Some of BJP’s senior leaders like Pon Radhakrishnan had stated that only that party which had BJP on its side would form the government. The AIADMK was mum on the matter for a long time as the party was in the throes of a leadership tussle, obviously between EPS and OPS.
Now, with the dust settled, the Assembly election is going to be a battle between the AIADMK-BJP alliance and the DMK.
Interestingly, the leaders of Vijayakant’s DMDK were present during the Amit Shah function but Dr Ramadoss’ PMK was not represented. The Congress, after its drubbing in Bihar, is unlikely to bargain for seats in TN. So, the DMK could tag the PMK along in its alliance.
Congress MP from Karur Jothimani said regional parties which joined hands with the BJP were destroyed subsequently.
“In Kashmir, the PDP; in Assam it is the AGP; in Karnataka the JD(S); and in Bihar the JD(U). These are some examples,” she tweeted.
MDMK general secretary Vaiko, an ally of the DMK, said the AIADMK had no other go and hence wanted to continue with the alliance.
“They claim that they have given Rs.6,000 to farmers. But don’t they know how much corruption has taken place in that scheme? They are going to fail in the upcoming election for sure,” he said.
AIADMK leader Vaigai Chelvan said the people of the state trusted in the good governance of the regime and a truck with the BJP would stand to benefit the state.
“The AIADMK has contested and emerged victorious in the elections without alliances in the past. Since the top leadership of the party has decided that we need to face this election with a mega alliance, we will do that,” he said.
Political observer Tharasu Shyam said the AIADMK violated political traditions by announcing an alliance at a government function.
“They can say that they would form the government for the third time. But the alliance announcement should not have been made,” he said.
“Amit Shah has not commented on the AIADMK’s announcement. Now, the ball is in the BJP’s court. The BJP can come to a decision after discussions with its state unit leaders,” he said.
The BJP is expected to seek 40 seats in the upcoming election. But the AIADMK would not be ready to part with more than 20 seats. The BJP could also ask for a power-sharing pact but the AIADMK would not yield to that.
“This being the case, the BJP may reconsider its alliance. But the AIADMK thinks that even if the alliance gets broken, they can part without enmity. Comparing Tamil Nadu’s situation with Bihar is meaningless because BJP is in the second or third place there for many years. But that is not the case here,” Shyam said.