‘Unanimous decision’: AIADMK pulls out of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance

Sep 25, 2023 08:26 PM IST

AIADMK leader K P Munuswamy said the party will lead an alliance with other parties to face the 2024 Lok Sabha elections

Tamil Nadu’s main opposition, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Monday exited the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and decided to contest next year’s Lok Sabha elections with other state specific allies.

AIADMK leader KP Munuswamy speaks to reporters at the party headquarters in Chennai on Monday. (ANI)
AIADMK leader KP Munuswamy speaks to reporters at the party headquarters in Chennai on Monday. (ANI)

A resolution to this effect was passed at the meeting led by AIADMK’s general secretary Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) with his party’s MPs, MLAs, district secretaries and top leadership in Chennai on Monday evening.

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“To respect the sentiments of our two-crore cadre, from today the AIADMK is leaving the BJP and the NDA,” AIADMK’s deputy general secretary K P Munuswamy said, reading out the resolution after the meeting amidst celebrations and bursting of crackers at the party headquarters in Chennai.

The relation between the AIADMK and the BJP had been frosty for some time with immediate provocation being the BJP’s Tamil Nadu state present K Annamalai’s alleged comments on C N Annadurai, one of the pillars of the Dravidian movement after whom the AIADMK is named, the party said. The AIADMK alleged that the BJP leadership in the state has been insulting them for the past one year.

Annamalai, who tried some damage control a few days ago by saying that all is fine between the allies, on Monday refused to speak on the AIADMK’s major decision. “The BJP national leadership will speak on AIADMK’s decision,” Annamalai told reporters in Coimbatore. “I will speak about it later.”

The AIADMK decision came after senior party leaders met BJP national president J P Nadda in Delhi over the weekend and were unable to find resolution of their grievances, party leaders said.

‘For the past one year, the BJP’s state unit has been insulting Annadurai, EPS and late J Jayalalithaa, criticised their ideology and also belittled the mega conference held in Madurai in August after courts upheld EPS’ elevation in the party and O Panneerselvam’s ouster,” Munuswamy said. “The AIADMK will lead an alliance to face the 2024 elections with other allies. This is a unanimous decision. Even one person did not oppose this resolution,” he added.

The AIADMK and the BJP came together ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with the former leading the NDA alliance in Tamil Nadu with a coalition of parties- Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) and smaller parties such as the Puthiya Tamizhagam (PT) and Puthiya Needhi Katchi. The DMDK exited the NDA ahead of the 2021 assembly elections unhappy over seat allocation.

The decision has been seen as a jolt for the BJP as the national party was banking on the strength of the AIADMK in the southern state where unlike other parts of the country, the saffron party has not yet been able to find a foothold.

BJP leaders said that their strategy was to contest 2024 Lok Sabha polls together while continuing to build their party to be able to contest the 2026 assembly elections on their own in Tamil Nadu. “In the state, obviously the AIADMK is the larger party and EPS is the strongest leader of the party. This decision will only favour the DMK. We will have to see what the central leadership decides,” said a senior state BJP leader on condition of anonymity.

The BJP had also been working to get the trio of Panneerselvam, TTV Dhinakaran, and V K Sasikala expelled by EPS to come into the NDA’s fold. The BJP found a way into the state by uniting the warring factions of the AIADMK soon after J Jayalalithaa’s death in office in December 2016. Since then, the alliance has far too often been strained.

AIADMK’s internal assessment has consistently shown that being with the BJP is a baggage particularly because of alienating Tamil Nadu’s minorities. The party has also lost every election since the alliance – the 2019 parliamentary polls, 2021 assembly elections and 2022 local body elections.

The ruling DMK’s Secular Progressive Alliance has swept each of these elections and they will face 2024 polls in the INDIA bloc. The DMK and Congress in the state have consistently criticised the AIADMK of being subservient to the BJP for being afraid of facing the ire of federal agencies in alleged graft cases against EPS and his second line of leaders.

While AIADMK’s leadership remained friendly with the BJP’s central leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and national party president J P Nadda, back home EPS has flexed muscle to put the saffron party’s state unit in their place.

In the recent spat too, after Annamalai quoted an anecdote from 1956 about DMK founder Annamadurai, AIADMK’s organising secretary D Jayakumar first issued a warning on September 18 and said the party has decided to call off the alliance. Despite that, on September 22, five AIADMK leaders met with Nadda in Delhi for Annamalai to be reigned in. “AIADMK was suffocating in the alliance,” a senior leader close to EPS said.

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    Divya Chandrababu is an award-winning political and human rights journalist based in Chennai, India. Divya is presently Assistant Editor of the Hindustan Times where she covers Tamil Nadu & Puducherry. She started her career as a broadcast journalist at NDTV-Hindu where she anchored and wrote prime time news bulletins. Later, she covered politics, development, mental health, child and disability rights for The Times of India. Divya has been a journalism fellow for several programs including the Asia Journalism Fellowship at Singapore and the KAS Media Asia- The Caravan for narrative journalism. Divya has a master's in politics and international studies from the University of Warwick, UK. As an independent journalist Divya has written for Indian and foreign publications on domestic and international affairs.

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