The poor showing of the BJP-AIADMK alliance in the recent Lok Sabha elections has had its first fallout in Tamil Nadu: They are no longer friends.
The BJP that is seriously looking for other options including Rajinikanth as the party leadership is of the view that the tie-up with the AIADMK is not likely to help in its electoral ambitions.
One confirmation that all was not well in the alliance came recently during preparations for the Vellore by-poll scheduled for August 5. A meeting called by the AIADMK alliance candidate A C Shanmugham was cold-shouldered by the BJP.
In fact, not one from the party was present at the strategy meeting. According to sources, when local party leaders sought advice from their colleagues in Delhi they received no answers. The message was: keep off the AIADMK.
BJP contested in five constituencies in alliance with the AIADMK in the recent Lok Sabha elections. “Due to the strong anti-incumbency against the AIADMK government, we could not even retain the lone seat from Kanyakumari that was won by Pon Radhakrishnan in 2014 on our own strength,” said a BJP State functionary in western Tamil Nadu.
A few BJP functionaries The Federal spoke to conceded that there was also a strong anti-Modi sentiment across the state. “It’s all because of the fake propaganda carried out by the DMK. Despite the anti-Modi sentiment, we fancied our chances in some constituencies like Coimbatore and Kanyakumari. But, we lost because of the AIADMK,” said another functionary on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, in a series of review meetings held across the state after the Lok Sabha debacle, sources in the BJP said a number of people suggested that the party sever ties with the AIADMK as they would not be able to gain any ground in alliance with that party.
“Some suggested that we rope in Rajinikanth during the next assembly elections, since that is the only hope the party cadres have to make a mark here,” the sources said.
The BJP had originally planned to seek a Rajya Sabha seat from Tamil Nadu for foreign secretary turned External Affairs minister S Jaishankar. “But the plan was dropped at the last minute and he was nominated from Gujarat.
The party high command did not want to take any help from the AIADMK,” the sources said. This was the first sign that the BJP was upset with the AIADMK.
Another indication of the anger was that the BJP did not offer any ministry for the lone AIADMK member of parliament O P Raveendranath. In the previous ministry, Pon Radhakrishnan was nominated as minister of state in the Modi government.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneer Selvam and his son OP Raveendranath who had camped in New Delhi were not even entertained by BJP bosses.
The latest show of BJP’s anger has been in the run up to the Vellore Lok Sabha by-elections to be held shortly. The party ignored the review meetings and have not taken part in any election-related activity of the AIADMK.
BJP Vellore district vice president Jagan said that they did not get any instruction from the party high command to participate in the campaign.
“Last time, our party high command had asked us to work for the victory of the candidate, keeping aside differences. But, this time, our party high command has not told us anything. Even when asked about it, the high command asked us to remain silent till we get instructions,” Jagan said.