Former IPS officer Annamalai had recently joined the BJP. Photo: PTI file

Will get 150 seats in next Assembly polls, says BJP's TN chief Annamalai

All is well between the BJP and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, the chief of the saffron party’s state unit, K Annamalai, has asserted, saying that “anyone who wants to serve the state, if their intention is right, is valuable and welcome”.

But this does not mean the BJP would broker peace between Sasikala – former aide of late Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa – and top AIADMK leaders EPS and OPS.

EPS refers to E Palaniswami, former chief minister and currently Leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, and OPS stands for O Panneerselvam, former CM, deputy CM and deputy leader of Opposition.

“The BJP would not interfere in the internal politics of the AIADMK, as it was not their policy to meddle in other parties’ internal issues,” Annamalai, an IPS officer turned BJP leader, told The Print in an interview.

He talked about Sasikala’s political comeback after she recently staked claim to the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), from which she was expelled by EPS and OPS in August 2017. In October 2021, Sasikala unveiled a plaque naming herself as general secretary of the party while in March 2021, prior to the state elections, she had announced that she was taking a break from politics.

Also read: Is AIADMK dumping its minority vote bank?

“Anyone willing to work for the people of Tamil Nadu and prioritising the state is welcome, whether it is Sasikalaji or Annamalai,” Annamalai said.

While the political fortunes of the AIADMK have only dipped in the recent past – the party performed badly in the local body polls of October – Annamalai expressed confidence about the BJP forming a government in Tamil Nadu in the next state election.

Calling his party a “Dravidian, Tamil-centric party”, he told The Print: “We plan on going to the grassroots to spread the message of the BJP. We do not want to be an urban-centric party, sitting in AC rooms… We are the only party capable of promoting a person who has real talent. Will the (ruling) DMK ever make someone from a backward caste a CM?”

Also read: Jayalalithaa’s niece takes over ex-CM’s home after legal battle

“In the next Tamil Nadu elections in 2026, the Bharatiya Janata Party will get 150 (of 234) seats. And not one seat less,” asserted Annamalai.

He also attacked the ruling DMK for its lack of “intellectual ability”, and for “weaponising” Tamils for votes. “The problem is that one cannot see the vision of the chief minister (MK Stalin) and he is being let down by his cabinet ministers, whether it is law and order, school education or finance,” the Tamil Nadu BJP chief said in the interview.

Annamalai also trashed claims that the Karnataka BJP government’s new anti-conversion law (Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill 2021) would be used to target communities. “The anti-conversion law cannot catch any Tom, Dick or Harry. There is a process in place and the law is process-oriented. Why should anyone be scared?” he asked.

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