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TN: Will AIADMK Prove Strength in Urban Local Body Polls After Shedding BJP?

Neelambaran A |
The BJP has been riding on the back of AIADMK since the 2019 general elections; while the former has gained in the subsequent elections, the AIADMK has been on the losing side since then.
TN: Will AIADMK Prove Strength in Urban Local Body Polls After Shedding BJP?

Image Courtesy: NewsBharati

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) bonhomie has come to a halt, at least temporarily, as the two parties parted ways for the urban local body (ULB) polls. As expected, the BJP took the lead in announcing that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is intact and AIADMK is an integral part with an eye on the 2024 general elections.

Both the parties claimed that the talks on seat sharing failed as BJP demanded more seats for the single-phase ULB polls scheduled on February 19. However, the controversial comments made by BJP legislature party leader N Nainar Nagendran on the AIADMK leaders is also attributed to be the reason for the snapping of the alliance.

The BJP demanded 30% seats in their strongholds and 20% elsewhere; the AIADMK was prepared to spare only 5% of the total seats on offer. The parties continue to announce candidates as the last date for filing the nominations falls on February 4.

The BJP has been piggybacking the AIADMK since 2019 and has been considered a burden for the AIADMK.

'AIADMK IRKED BY COMMENTS'

The BJP has been desperately trying to blow out the student suicide in Thanjavore on allegations of forced conversion. During his speech in the hunger strike held by BJP in Chennai on January 25 seeking justice for the student, Nagendran courted controversy.

The BJP was expecting all-out support from AIADMK in cornering the DMK over the issue. Still, AIADMK refrained from any protests and demanded a detailed enquiry into the incident.

Nagendran, a former AIADMK MLA and a member of the Jayalalithaa cabinet between 2001-06, accused the present AIADMK leadership of lacking spine and manliness and its inability to take on the DMK in the assembly. He joined the BJP after the demise of the former chief minister in 2017.

Following the appointment of Dr Tamilisai Soundarajan as the governor of Telangana, he was considered as a possible successor. After being appointed as one of the party's vice presidents, he expressed his disappointment over not being offered a deserving post.

After winning the Assembly election, he was elected as the legislature party leader, overlooking two other senior members of the party, Vanathi Srinivasan, the national president of the Mahila Morcha, and senior RSS man MR Gandhi from Nagercoil.

After the video of his accusation against the AIADMK leaders was widely circulated on social media platforms, he faced severe criticism from his former colleagues.

AIADMK social media members challenged him to resign as a legislator, face the election again, and prove his mettle. Though the comments were downplayed by him and the two parties' leaders, the damage was beyond repair.

Former minister D Jayakumar warned the BJP of dire consequences if its leaders continued to make inappropriate comments about the AIADMK leadership.

Earlier in 2017, RSS ideologue and editor of Thuglak magazine S Gurumurthy had termed the AIADMK leaders as impotent, to which the party reacted sharply.

WHO IS THE LOSER?

During the seat-sharing talks with the AIADMK, Nagendran was conspicuous by his absence. The state president of the BJP led the committee to negotiate with the AIADMK on finalising the share from 12,838 wards in the corporation, municipal corporation, and town panchayats that are up for grabs.

Initial reports suggested that the talks were cordial and smooth. The BJP reportedly demanded a higher share of wards in four districts, namely Erode, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari, from where the party has representatives in the assembly.

However, the AIADMK refused to budge to the pressure and offered not more than 5% of the seats. The discussions between the two parties extended for hours, and even a press meet was cancelled due to the inconclusive talks.

The state BJP, in a tweet, claimed that the party has decided to contest alone as per the wishes of the party members, and the NDA is intact.

When both the parties stitched up an alliance in the 2019 general elections, many predicted a setback for the AIADMK, including its own legislators. True to the apprehensions, the NDA was routed in the state, with the AIADMK winning a lone seat of the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies.

A similar backlash was expected in the Assembly elections, in which the DMK romped home comfortably. Several leaders of the AIADMK spoke of the BJP being a liability for the party and leading to the loss in elections.

The AIADMK camp and the members are upbeat about contesting alone, as the BJP has proved to be a deadweight for the party.

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