With Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled to visit Chennai on July 28, the EPS and OPS factions of the AIADMK are jostling to get separate audience with the premier and establish their proximity with the power centre in the national capital.
Modi is visiting the Tamil Nadu capital to inaugurate the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad and frenzied activity is now on among the two warring AIADMK veterans to ensure that they get ‘blessings’ of the prime minister as that could prove crucial in the ongoing tussle. When they visited New Delhi recently, neither Edappadi Palaniswami nor O Pannerselvam could manage a separate appointment with Modi.
Also read: OPS writes to RBI asking it to freeze 6 AIADMK bank accounts
That they could not get a separate meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah or BJP National president J P Nadda, disappointed supporters of EPS and OPS. When OPS visited Delhi, his supporters were claiming that he would meet top BJP leaders in Delhi. All OPS could manage was meeting with Draupadi Murmu to assure his support in the Presidential election. Some BJP ministers, including L Murugan from Tamil Nadu, was among those accompanying Murmu to the residence of OP Ravindranath – son of OPS – was the only solace.
When EPS visited Delhi, he greeted Draupadi Murmu and also attended the farewell hosted for outgoing President Ramnath Kovind by Prime Minister Modi. However, there was no separate meeting with Modi, Shah, or Nadda as the supporters of EPS were claiming.
As EPS returned to Chennai on Sunday, the OPS faction claimed that BJP did not entertain their rival. The slugfest is now all set to continue till July 28 when Modi lands in Chennai. Chess Olympiad maybe the official agenda on that day, but all eyes are on the political chess that EPS and OPS are likely to play.
Also read: Madras HC grants possession of AIADMK headquarters to EPS
Senior BJP leaders say the party has not supported either EPS or OPS in the ongoing struggle within the AIADMK fold. “We want the MGR-Jayalalithaa party to remain strong,” they emphasised. However, many political observers in Tamil Nadu feel the BJP is trying to occupy the space of the main opposition, side-lining the AIADMK.