The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) seems to be on course for a total surrender to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Tamil Nadu. When a former minister blamed the party's alliance with the BJP for its defeat in the assembly elections, O. Panneerselvam (OPS) was quick to brush aside the allegation and claimed there was no mistrust among the two parties.
This was followed by a joint statement by OPS and Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) claiming that the alliance was intact.
But, despite its near meek surrender, the AIADMK once again failed to gain a berth in the Union Cabinet. The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), another alliance partner of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), was also left out during the expansion.
By nominating its former state president L. Murugan to the Cabinet, the BJP seems to have settled on a plan for Tamil Nadu, with special focus on the western districts.
AIADMK FOLLOWING BJP’S DIKTAT?
Former law minister C.V. Shanmugam raked up the matter of the electoral defeat and went on to claim that the party had paid a price for striking an alliance with the BJP. The state BJP leadership was quick to retaliate and blamed the AIADMK for the loss in the assembly elections. The saffron party leadership went on to demand clarification from the AIADMK leadership on the issue.
“By making the AIADMK leadership downplay its own leader on the alliance and electoral defeat, the BJP has once again proved that the AIADMK is under their control. The AIADMK’s unconditional support for the BJP and its submission have raised suspicions over the political future of the party itself," said Jeeva Sagapthan, a political analyst.
The minister later clarified that he will follow party guidelines on the alliance with BJP and his earlier comments were made in a personal capacity. The BJP’s claim of attributing the loss to the AIADMK has less takers since the party had been continuously drawing a blank since 2001.
After winning a lone seat in the general election in May 2019, both the parties fought the assembly elections together. The AIADMK, despite severe infighting, managed to win 66 seats while the BJP won only four seats in the assembly elections held in April 2021.
'OPS PINNED HOPES ON HIS SON'
OPS was reportedly expecting a slot for his son, Theni MP O.P. Raveendranath, the only Lok Sabha member of the NDA from Tamil Nadu.
“The comments of the former minister came at the wrong time for OPS I feel. He was desperately waiting for his son’s entry into the Cabinet. But, EPS was in favour of his loyalists from the western part of the state. The untimely comments on the alliance has dashed the hopes of OPS,” Sagapthan added.
The discontent between the EPS and OPS camps continues, with poster wars seen in parts of the state. EPS and OPS loyalists blamed each other for the poll debacle and claimed their leader was the undisputed head of the party.
“The BJP is enjoying the infighting between the OPS and EPS camp as it could favour them in the longer run,” he said.
The PMK was also hoping for a berth, with its youth-wing leader and former union minister Dr. Anbumani Ramdoss elected to the Rajya Sabha.
“The BJP was not the beneficiary of the vote transfer from the PMK, while AIADMK reaped benefits in the northern parts of the state. So the BJP might have thought it was not necessary to reward the PMK," Sagapthan explained.
DID AIADMK LOSE VOTES DUE TO BJP ALLIANCE?
The discontent within the AIADMK was palpable, with its grassroot-level workers dissatisfied with the BJP alliance. The AIADMK was expected to fare poorly in the assembly elections; it however managed to win a respectable number of seats.
“Many leaders have expressed their displeasure over the loss of traditional minority votes due to the alliance with the BJP off the record. The party might have won 25 to 30 seats more considering the ground reality of the DMK benefiting from the anti-BJP votes,” Sagapthan added.
The party's second-rung leaders and its cadres seem worried about the party getting alienated from its traditional voters.
“The AIADMK, founded by the late M.G. Ramchandran, is still a fan-based party. They are less communal and are not fundamentalist. The party cadres still don't accept the one culture, one language and other fundamentalist policies of the BJP. Such things are coming out through some leaders, creating discomfort for the dual leadership,” he added.
In the deferred elections to the Vellore Lok Sabha seat, the AIADMK lost by only around 8,000 votes, after a massive drubbing in the general elections. The loss of minority votes was considered as the reason for the AIADMK’s loss.