Tamil Nadu: AIADMK-BJP Spat Far from Over; Future of Alliance Intact?
The ties between the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have remained strained ever since the two parties came together. With several AIADMK leaders blaming the alliance with the BJP for the electoral setbacks in the 2019 general elections and 2021 Assembly elections, according to political observers, there has always been a lack of trust between the two parties.
Most recently, former minister and senior AIADMK leader, D Jaya Kumar, announced that there is no alliance between the two parties and AIADMK will decide on its partners only during the elections. The announcement came a day after BJP state president K Annamalai claimed that Dravidian stalwart C N Annadurai was forced to apologise by Muthuramalinga Thevar for “speaking against the Hindu faith”. The claims, however, have been proved wrong.
The BJP, which has been accused of piggybacking on the AIADMK since the death of former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalitha, celebrated the announcement by distributing sweets and bursting crackers, though the top leadership remained silent.
A couple of days later, Annamalai claimed that the ties were intact, but refused to apologise for his remarks on C N Annadurai. The AIADMK has officially not reacted to this statement.
AIADMK general secretary and former CM Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) had recently met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi and heaped praise on the Union government for passing the Women’s Reservation Bill in both houses of Parliament. The AIADMK has also extended support to the proposals of the BJP-led Union government, including the controversial 'One Nation, One Election' idea.
CONFUSION OVER ALLIANCE
Following the split in the AIADMK – due to O Panneer Selvam’s (OPS) revolt after the death of Jayalalitha – the BJP has allegedly had a say in the matters pertaining to the functioning of the party. The merger of the AIADMK has been attributed to the intervention of the top leadership of the BJP. As a result, the BJP has been banking on AIADMK for electoral gain, but with limited success.
The recent statewide yatra by the BJP has made matters worse for the alliance. From taking a jibe at J Jayalalitha for corruption and now the remarks against Annadurai, these developments have not gone down well with the AIADMK.
Reacting strongly to Annamalai's claims, Jayakumar announced that there is no alliance with BJP. "We will decide on the alliance during elections. This is the party stand," he announced while addressing the press. Several AIADMK leaders, including former ministers C V Shanmugam and Sellur K Raju, have expressed displeasure over the alliance with BJP, citing the position of state leadership of the party on issues relating to AIADMK.
'EVERYONE NEEDS ALLIES'
The BJP, on the other hand, has been insisting on the continuation of the alliance with the AIADMK. Despite frequently mocking leaders of the latter, the BJP state president has said that everyone requires allies in the state.
"Every party needs allies, and everyone knows that. Here also, (in Tamil Nadu), we have a department of anti-corruption and vigilance. Everyone needs protection. We don't have larger-than-life leaders anymore," said Annamalai during an interaction with the media.
When asked if he was threatening the AIADMK leaders, Annamalai dodged the question. He has mentioned the names of former ministers C V Shanmugam and Sellur Raju and claimed that “such leaders do not have moral rights to speak about honesty”.
Commenting on the AIADMK’s announcement, senior journalist R K Radhakrishnan wrote on X, "AIADMK is a fully-owned subsidiary company of the BJP. If the non-Chennai (or Tamil Nadu) - based media tell you that the AIADMK-BJP alliance is over, it's either ignorance or worse, planted with a specific purpose. I am trying to figure out the real reason for @offiofDJ's outburst. See what has been posted on @EPSTamilNadu and @AIADMKOfficial handles".
The saffron party has been attempting to overtake AIADMK as the principal opposition in the state, taking advantage of “the lack of a charismatic leadership”. Though EPS has gained control of the party, by sidelining OPS, a lot needs to be done before the party regains its mass base. The alliance may remain intact, considering the importance AIADMK receives from the national leadership of the BJP, but the disconnect between the two in the state may deteriorate and lead to electoral consequences.
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