AIADMK-BJP poll alliance in Tamil Nadu dusted and sealed
Opinion is divided in Tamil Nadu on who would gain more from a BJP-AIADMK alliance in the state. Most analysts feel BJP would gain a toehold while AIADMK will end up losing its minority support base
The AIADMK and BJP have begun talks to finalise their seat sharing plan. Union Minister Piyush Goyal, who has been given charge of Tamil Nadu elections, reached Chennai on Thursday evening to meet with AIADMK leaders.
“This alliance does not bode well for AIADMK. They have a strong minority base, which they will lose as a result of this alliance. Only BJP stands to gain from this alliance as this will help them grow at the grassroots. This does not augur well for the state. If AIADMK is not gaining politically or electorally, then why is it partnering with the BJP? It does mean that they have been cornered into this alliance. The alliance might win a few seats in West Tamil Nadu where the BJP has some support. But the DMK and Congress are positioned to win a higher number of seats,” says Kannan Sundaram, Tamil Nadu-based political commentator and editor of Kalachuvadu.
Speaking to the media at the airport, Goyal had said he was in the state to meet with political “friends”. When asked if this was a sign that AIADMK and BJP were entering into an electoral alliance, Goyal said there would be “good news” soon.
“PM Modi is confident that the people of Tamil Nadu care about him just as he cares about them. We want the voice of Tamil Nadu to be heard in New Delhi when PM Modi forms the next government after the elections in May 2019. I have come to chart out our future course of action,” emphasised Goyal. He was accompanied by TN BJP leaders Pon Radhakrishnan and Tamilisai Soundararajan for the meeting.
Soon after reaching Chennai, Goyal held meetings with AIADMK leaders electricity minister P Thangamani and municipal administration minister SP Velumani. This assumes significance because a couple of months ago these two leaders had met Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman a couple of months.
Soon after Goyal, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also reached Chennai and had proceeded to Vellore to speak to party-men. In Chennai he had asserted and was confident that the citizens of Tamil Nadu would support PM Narendra Modi to become the Prime Minister again. He claimed that the PM had been working to develop the country.
This alliance comes despite several voices within the AIADMK expressing their reservations against it, including Lok Sabha deputy speaker Thambidurai and senior AIADMK C Ponnaiyan. There has been general opposition to the alliance within the state as well. AIADMK spokesperson B Valarmathi refused to comment on the issue and stated that deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam (OPS) would comment.
Earlier this week, OPS had said tersely in the state Assembly that there was no chance that AIADMK was planning or exploring the possibility of going for the polls alone, especially because DMK had tied up with the Congress
AIADMK has been facing a leadership and existence crisis ever since the death of their leader Jayalaithaa in 2016. Two factions led by OPS and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) have been bickering ever since her death to gain control of the party. After the two factions came to power, MLA TTV Dinakaran, who is the nephew of VK Sasikala, was ousted from the party. He has the support of 18 MLAs.
Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) led by S Ramdoss, which is also in discussions with both DMK and AIADMK for a pre-poll alliance, is leaning towards AIADMK. PMK would like to contest from five seats and AIADMK is likely to give in to their demands, according to sources. In 2014, the PMK had allied with the BJP but had won just a single seat in Dharmapuri. In 2009 they had lost all six seats they contested from and at that time they were in an alliance with AIADMK.