AIADMK declares EPS as chief minister candidate, silent on pact with BJP

Everything doesn’t look good in the alliance so far as the BJP too has desisted from going ahead with the deal as it has shown a desire to share power in Tamil Nadu

If the verdict had come in the OPS disqualification case, and 12 MLAs of this group been disqualified, the Palaniswami government would be seen as a minority one, with only support of 104

BJP and AIADMK are strange bedfellows. They seem to need each other desperately, but yet pretend they don’t. Ahead of the upcoming Tamil Nadu assembly polls this year, both parties are refraining from making the first move on a formal alliance, which was sealed when BJP leader Amit Shah visited Chennai recently.

The AIADMK general council met on Saturday (January 9) to authorize party coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) and joint coordinator and Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) to decide on alliances and election strategies.

The general council endorsed the continuation of Palaniswami as the chief minister, but refrained from making any statement on continuing with the BJP. Political analysts see it as a strong message that only those who accept EPS as the chief minister are welcomed in the alliance. The decision taken on Saturday seems to have put an end to the grumbling within the EPS and O Panneerselvam factions over sharing power and authority in the state and within the party.

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Everything doesn’t look good in the alliance so far as the BJP too has desisted from going ahead with the deal as it has shown a desire to share power in the state.

Speaking at the meeting, EPS admitted that he lacks the leadership qualities of CN Annadurai and MGR. “However, I was able to complete my term as the CM with the love and support of the rank and file of the party,” he said.

The chief minister insisted on forming booth level committees comprising youth, women and IT wing cadres who can work hard to get at least 300 votes per booth. “I have the experience of campaigning at such booth levels during the 2016 elections. If we plan carefully and contest, we can emerge victorious,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) said AIADMK will form the government for the third consecutive time. “No one is slave to other. No one can control no one. We should work together keeping all the differences aside and make the party win the election,” he said.

Also read: How the Tamil Nadu BJP chief raked up the EPS-OPS turf war

Earlier, AIADMK MP Munusamy tried to make light of BJP’s presence in the state as he said “the upcoming election is a battle between AIADMK and DMK alone”. “The national parties are not a matter of worry for us. They can only piggyback on AIADMK and DMK,” said Munusamy.

The general council meeting was supposed to be organized in 2020, but was postponed due to Covid-19 lockdown.

Jailed AIADMK president and former minister Jayalalithaa’s close friend V K Sasikala will be released from Bengaluru jail on January 27, which might start a new round of talks between the two parties. A section of senior leaders in AIADMK, close to OPS, feel Sasikala’s release is a non-issue. Munusamy said, without naming Sasikala, “Even if she comes out of the prison, she has thousands of problems to face.”

Also read: Shah goes to Assam with ‘Modi’s development’ to set stage for polls

The AIADMK-BJP coalition was completely rejected by the people of Tamil Nadu in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. They may not find it easy to fight the reemerging DMK under MK Stalin during the upcoming assembly polls.

It may be noted that EPS was Sasikala’s choice as the chief minister when she failed to occupy the important position after Jayalalithaa’s death.

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