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

The battle between the Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam factions in the AIADMK, which seemed to have been put to rest when the party’s executive committee in October decided to promote Palaniswami as the chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Assembly polls, has re-ensued, thanks to a statement by BJP state president L Murugan.

Murugan recently said that the BJP would continue its alliance with the AIADMK and will take a call on the chief ministerial candidate. While Murugan’s statement riled up EPS loyalists, it gave OPS supporters, who so far had been mum on executive committee’s decision, a chance to voice their disappointment. While OPS supporters want the BJP to decide on the CM candidate, some EPS supporters say they don’t want an alliance with the saffron party at all.

It is to be noted that despite the Dravidian party’s simmering tensions with the BJP, AIADMK convener OPS announced that his party will continue its alliance with the saffron party for the Assembly polls next year, during the visit of Home Minister Amit Shah to Chennai.

While Shah hasn’t made any announcement on the renewal of the alliance or his party’s support of EPS as the chief ministerial candidate yet, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar too remained silent on the matter during his visit to the state on December 25.

Commenting on the same, state IT minister Kadambur Raju said the silence of Javadekar means that the BJP has accepted EPS as chief ministerial candidate. Countering this statement, state Cooperatives minister Sellur Raju said since BJP is a national party, only it should decide on the chief ministerial candidate.

Related news: AIADMK is only party where a cadre can be chief minister: EPS

“When a national party forges an alliance with a regional outfit, the former gets to decide on the CM candidate,” Raju said.

On December 27, state minister K Pandiarajan, an OPS loyalist, had said that BJP leader JP Nadda would announce the CM candidate. It is interesting to note that Pandiarajan, in October has said that AIADMK’s CM candidate would also be the alliance’s CM candidate.

However, at a campaign held in Chennai on December 27, AIADMK deputy coordinator KP Munusamy said that there was no place for a ‘coalition government’.

“Regional or national, if there is an alliance, only the AIADMK will form government. There is no place for power sharing in the government,” he said.

Claiming that the Dravidian parties did not allow national parties to enter the state for five decades, Munusamy said some are conspiring to enter Tamil Nadu now.

So, will the AIADMK chief ministerial candidate be reconsidered, now that the BJP is in the fray?

Speaking to The Federal, Kuralar Gopinathan, one of the spokespersons of AIADMK said there will be no change in the chief ministerial candidate.

“It has been decided that EPS is the CM candidate. There is a tradition as part of which all our allies come together and announce that they accept our choice of candidate. That kind of meeting has not happened till now because there is more time for elections,” he said maintaining that all AIADMK allies stand by EPS as the CM candidate.

He called the latest noise in the party an attempt by the opposition to break the AIADMK.

“The opposition parties are looking for a chance to break AIADMK. Earlier when TTV Dhinakaran exited, they thought the party would break. Then they tried to split the party using the EPS and OPS factions. But that too failed when EPS was chosen as a CM candidate. Now, they are trying to divide the party using the opinion of our allies,” Gopinathan said.

Political observer Pongalur R Manikandan said when a party has two leadership, these kinds of confusions are expected.

Related news: In Amit Shah’s presence, Palaniswami says: AIADMK to fight TN polls with BJP 

“It is evident that the current leadership of AIADMK is being operated by BJP from behind. That’s why EPS, being a joint-coordinator has been unable to assert himself as a chief ministerial candidate, whereas the deputy coordinator is more confident in asserting the same. EPS lacks confidence in himself and that’s why he is unable to control other leaders who are saying that BJP will decide CM candidate,” he said.

“The BJP is trying to create a situation like that in Bihar and that’s why its leaders like Annamalai continuously attack the AIADMK,” Manikandan said.

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