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Home / India News / AIADMK and BJP reaffirm Tamil Nadu coalition

AIADMK and BJP reaffirm Tamil Nadu coalition

The announcement came while Shah is on a two-day visit to the state, which began in Chennai with an unscheduled stop by the Union minister outside the airport to greet big crowds of BJP supporters.

india Updated: Nov 22, 2020, 01:22 IST
Divya Chandrababu
Divya Chandrababu
Hindustan Times
Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah.(PTI)

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will fight the 2021 Tamil Nadu elections as partners, chief minister Edapaddi Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam announced in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah on Saturday, reaffirming an alliance that seemed to be strained in recent weeks.

The announcement came while Shah is on a two-day visit to the state, which began in Chennai with an unscheduled stop by the Union minister outside the airport to greet big crowds of BJP supporters. Later, he inaugurated a string of projects and hit out at the main rival coalition, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Congress.

“The victorious alliance will continue for the coming elections,” said Panneerselvam after Shah inaugurated infrastructure projects worth ₹67,378 crore. The two partnered along with other regional parties for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when the BJP drew a blank and the AIADMK won one seat. The state has 39 constituencies.

Though Shah did not speak on the alliance, he said the Narendra Modi-led Union government will support Tamil Nadu’s administration. In a 43-minute speech, Shah spoke in Hindi aided by a Tamil translator.

He attacked the opposition DMK-Congress coalition, mostly on the issues of corruption and dynasty politics. “I’m surprised they can even speak of corruption after the 2G scam. What right do they have?” said Shah. He added that Modi has been against corruption, dynasty politics and caste-based politics. “People will teach a lesson to those who practice family politics,” he said.

“I hear DMK leaders often say that the Centre is being unjust towards Tamil Nadu. What did you do when you were with the Congress in power for ten years,” said Shah. He added that Centre’s budgetary allocation for Tamil Nadu under the Modi government was higher than what it was during former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s tenure in 2013-2014.

The rousing welcome according to the BJP leader was unusual since the party’s leader have faced protests in previous visits. In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended government events by taking a helicopter as people with black flags lined the streets. But some protests were evident on Saturday as the #gobackAmithShah hashtag began trending on Twitter since Friday night, in tandem with another hashtag #TNwelcomesChanakya that popped up on Saturday.

Following the inaugurations, Shah held meetings with AIADMK and BJP leaders at a private hotel to prepare for the polls. BJP has been attempting to make inroads into Tamil Nadu, where elections this year will be the first since the deaths of the two Dravidian political stalwarts, AIADMK’s J Jayalalithaa and DMK’s M Karunanidhi. The AIADMK has been in power for the past 10 years.

In recent weeks, a series of confrontations between the AIADMK-led government and the Tamil Nadu BJP fuelled speculation that the coalition was under a strain. In particular was the fight over BJP’s Vetrivel yatra (victorious spear march), which the government said cannot proceed due to Covid-19 concerns, and the choice of the chief ministerial candidate.

According to AIADMK leaders, the timing of the announcement on Saturday came as a surprise. A senior leader, who asked not to be named, said party members were not consulted. “It was totally unexpected,” the leader said. “There was no indication of this announcement even when we had a consultative meeting a day ago (Friday). We had not discussed alliances.”

Political experts too said the timing may not be right. “It is too early to announce alliances,” said Ramu Manivannan, head, politics and public administration department, University of Madras. “And it should not have been done on a stage organised for government programmes.”

Late in the night, Shah began consultations with BJP’s core committee members that included state president L Murugan and veteran leaders Pon Radhakrishnan, L Ganesan and H Raja.

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