What Amit Shah’s remark suggests about TN BJP, AIADMK and their alliance

It's clear that AIADMK is the dominant ally, and that Edappadi Palaniswami is the undisputed leader of the party

Amit Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a file photo

Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement on Thursday that the BJP’s alliance with the AIADMK will continue in Tamil Nadu seemed to have settled a couple of issues for the time being. One, that the AIADMK is the dominant partner in the alliance, and two, that AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami’s hold over the party is gaining acceptance.

“We are in an alliance with the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. The alliance with AIADMK will continue,” Shah reportedly told reporters at the sidelines of the ‘News 18 Rising India’ programme in New Delhi. He also reportedly conceded that the BJP is weak in a few states like Tamil Nadu, where alliance partners would be of help.

Annamalai’s change of stance

Shah’s soft approach was contrary to Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai’s hard stance vis-a-vis AIADMK. Annamalai, who did not share the dais with Palaniswami in the recently concluded Erode East bypoll, was reportedly summoned to Delhi by Shah. Though he claimed it to be one of the many summoned for meeting with the top brass, the way he addressed the AIADMK saw a sharp change ever since. Annamalai congratulated Palaniswami after he took over as general secretary of AIADMK.

Also read: From a Salem village to becoming AIADMK boss, Palaniswami has come a long way

Shah’s acknowledgment of the AIADMK as the major partner in the alliance was the second big win for Palaniswami in the last two days. Earlier, he got favourable verdicts in the Supreme Court and the Madras High Court, making him the undisputed general secretary of the party.

Before summons to Delhi, Annamalai was quoted as saying in a party meeting that he would rather resign than have an alliance with the AIADMK. He also compared himself to J Jayalalithaa, which didn’t go down well with AIADMK leaders.

Strained relationship

The relationship between the two parties was strained, as was visible during the recently concluded Erode East bypoll. Even though Annamalai took part in the campaign, he didn’t join Palaniswami’s election meetings. What made matters worse was that many BJP leaders, including state IT wing president CTR Nirmal Kumar, quit the party and joined hands with Palaniswami.

AIADMK leaders, many of whom feel that an alliance with BJP is affecting their chances of success, were also making caustic comments against the BJP and Annamalai.

But Shah’s statement seems to have settled the issue for now. The fact that he stressed upon the need for the alliance in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections also underlines Palanaswami’s hold over the alliance.

EPS gains stature

“All are seeing Palaniswami as the supreme leader of the party after Amma J Jayalalithaa,” KRP Prabhakaran, former AIADMK MP and Tirunelveli district secretary, told The Federal. “The top courts have cleared his leadership. The supremacy of the General Council as the apex deciding body has been acknowledged in these cases. Edappadi Palaniswami’s win has proved that he is going to stay here forever,” he said.

Palaniswami’s supporters are celebrating. They have put out posters of Palaniswami in the garb of AIADMK’s founding leader MG Ramachandran, donning the typical cap and coolers. Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) President Thol Thirumavalan said Palaniswami was smart enough to hold to his position. Despite being in the rival DMK alliance, Thirumavalan has been appreciative of his meteoric rise.

On the other hand, Palaniswami’s rival O Panneerselvam is pinning his hopes on an appeal against the Madras High Court order that validated the resolutions adopted in the July 11, 2022, General Council. The hearing on his petition against the single-judge order has been adjourned for next Friday.

Also read: AIADMK starts EPS elevation process; Panneerselvam criticises rival camp

Shah’s talk is a shot in the arm for the AIADMK which has been insisting for long that in Tamil Nadu, the party is the leading partner of the alliance. It seals the fact that the alliance in Tamil Nadu is headed by AIADMK, said senior party leader D Jayakumar. The BJP state president’s talks (on the issue) have been disapproved, he said.

In the BJP, on the other hand, there is a stoic silence after Shah’s statement, with Annamalai toning down his rhetoric against the AIADMK.