Out of NDA fold: How a desperate EPS is trying to establish AIADMK's hold
By dumping BJP, AIADMK expects to increase votes of minorities from 10 to about 30 per cent, hoping this will cut the huge gap between DMK and AIADMK fronts
The AIADMK, led by former Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS), is banking on many factors to try and establish the supremacy the party once had under the leadership of MGR and J Jayalalithaa.
Essentially, the EPS group has realised that any hope of achieving electoral success in Tamil Nadu will depend on creating a split in the anti-BJP vote bank, if one can call it that, which the DMK-led alliance encashed to the full.
Once outside the fold of the BJP, EPS believes that consistent criticism of the BJP's anti-Muslim stance will revive a secular image for the party. This strategy is more based on hope, than experience.
The EPS group also plans to increase the number of Muslim and Christian candidates beginning with the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. This was a key strategy adopted by Jayalalithaa from 2006 to create a dent in the minority vote bank of the DMK-led alliance.
What AIADMK plans
The AIADMK (EPS) thus expects to increase votes of minorities from 10 to about 30 percent, hoping this will reduce the huge gap between the DMK and AIADMK fronts.
A set of senior leaders of the EPS group have been directly affected by the loss of minority votes, right from former minister D Jayakumar, who was shocked when a large number of Christian fishermen of his constituency in Chennai, his traditional supporters, bluntly told him that they would have to defeat him because of the alliance with the BJP.
Thus, persons like Jayakumar have mounted enormous pressure on the AIADMK leadership to snap ties with the BJP.
A third factor which the AIADMK banks on is a mini-revolt by some constituents of the DMK-led front like the Dalit outfit VCK, and the two Left parties over the paltry allotment of seats to them by the DMK.
These parties stomached this only because there were no alternatives before them. With the AIADMK junking the BJP, these secular parties now have an option-- this is the wishful thinking of the EPS group.
The AIADMK, using money power, will try to lure away certain leaders, if not constituents of the DMK-led alliance to its camp. EPS, some say, thinks elections are won and lost by money power.
However much the EPS group may try a break-up of the DMK-led front, this will not happen before next year’s Lok Sabha battle.
A significant aspect of the DMK front is the bonding and steely resolve of its constituents to counter and defeat the BJP, come what may. The parties have already made several sacrifices to ensure continuance of the alliance. The ADMK will run up against a wall there.
All this is a story of ifs and buts but EPS is like a drowning man clutching a straw. A desperate EPS is making desperate moves to try and save himself and his party.
The BJP seems determined to chalk out its long-term strategy for Tamil Nadu through K Annamalai, the party chief in the state. The BJP is supremely confident that Annamalai has laid a strong foundation on the basis of which it can emerge as a strong contender in 2026.
Annamalai, as a result of his anti-corruption drive, has positioned himself as the main opponent to the DMK even as a dithering EPS has failed to play the role of the Opposition leader. n a repeat of the West Bengal scenario, where the BJP wants to be seen as the main opponent to Mamata Banerjee, the BJP is seen by the public as giving sleepless nights to the DMK leadership.
In the days ahead, the AIADMK and the BJP will be locked in a suspenseful contest to grab the existing NDA allies in the state.