Tamil Nadu pact sealed, brings AIADMK back to NDA fold
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday finalised its alliance with the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) for the coming parliamentary elections in Tamil Nadu, a state that sends the fourth highest number of representatives to the Lok Sabha, 39, after Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and West Bengal.
The BJP will contest five of these seats, and the AIADMK 25. Earlier in the day, the AIADMK announced its partnership with the PMK, which will contest seven seats. The other two seats have been reserved for smaller parties that will be part of the alliance. They are likely to include actor Vijayakant’s Desiya Murpoku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK). The AIADMK said the PMK will also be allotted a Rajya Sabha berth. Analysts say the AIADMK may also give some seats from its quota to the smaller parties.
The BJP and PMK said they will support the AIADMK in bypolls for 21 assembly seats that are expected to be scheduled at the same time as the Lok Sabha elections.
The move comes a day after the BJP and its long-time partner the Shiv Sena finalised their seat-sharing arrangement in Maharashtra, and, potentially, a day ahead of the Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Congress, which have already decided to go it together in Tamil Nadu, announcing details of their partnership.
Announcing the alliance in Chennai, Union minister Piyush Goyal said: “I am extremely delighted that the AIADMK and the BJP have concluded very fruitful discussions and agreed to contest the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry as well as the state assembly bypoll together in an alliance.”
“We have agreed to contest the elections in Tamil Nadu under the leadership of the state chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami and deputy CM O Panneerselvam and at the national level as NDA [National Democratic Alliance] under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All alliance partners in Tamil Nadu will strengthen the NDA and all will work to sweep the polls,” Goyal added.
He was flanked by the Tamil Nadu chief minister and deputy CM as he made the announcement.
The BJP and the AIDMK have been partners before. In 1998, under J Jayalalithaa, the Dravidian party became a partner of the BJP and the alliance won 30 of the state’s 39 Lok Sabha seats. However, a year later, she withdrew support to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government (which lasted 13 months). The PMK is already a partner of the BJP (it rejoined the NDA in 2014, after exiting it in 2004; it was also part of the NDA between 1998 and 2004; in between, for some time, it was part of the United Progressive Alliance).
After the 2009 LS elections, this is the first time that the PMK has allied with the AIADMK. The PMK lost all the seats it contested in alliance with the AIADMK in 2009. In the 2014 general elections, the AIADMK, which contested alone, won 37 of the 40 seats (including Puducherry), while the BJP and PMK secured one seat each under the NDA. The Puducherry seat was won by the All India NR Congress, an ally of the NDA. The DMK and Congress did not win any seat.
The AIADMK is widely considered to be a so-called friendly party of the NDA; its leader S Thambi Durai is the deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha, and the party has usually supported the government’s legislative agenda.
After former Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016, the BJP made a play in Tamil Nadu, where it has an insignificant presence. There has been talk of the party effecting a split in the AIADMK and getting one part to ally with itself, and of it convincing matinee idol Rajinikanth, who has indicated he will enter politics to form a broad alliance with it and the AIADMK.
On Sunday, Rajinikanth announced his decision to sit out the Lok Sabha elections and contest the next assembly elections in the state, which will be held in 2021.
He will also sit out the bypolls to 21 assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu which will be held along with the Lok Sabha elections.
Political analyst K Elangovan said: “The PMK had engaged the DMK only to enhance its bargaining capacity with the AIADMK. But, it is doubtful whether Jayalalithaa would have been so generous in apportioning seven LS seats and an RS seat to the PMK, considering its size and electoral appeal. After the 2009 LS elections, she had kept the PMK off since she was convinced that a tie-up with that party alienated Dalits as well as non-Vanniyar votes.”
Tami Nadu Congress president Alagiri described Tuesday’s developments as a “historical blunder committed by the PMK”.
“The PMK, which has been fighting for the cause of social justice, has teamed up with the BJP, which is bent upon destroying the social justice mechanism. The PMK has committed a historical blunder. It is very unfortunate,” he said.
The seat-sharing arrangement between the DMK and the Congress is likely to be on the same lines as that between the BJP and the AIADMK, analysts said, although the Congress, which is stronger in the state (and even ruled it till the late 1960s, before the entry of the Dravidian parties) could get a few more seats.
They expect the Congress to be given around 10 seats, the DMK to contest 25, and other partners, the remaining four.
Neither alliance includes the Amma Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, headed by TTV Dhinakaran, the nephew of Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala (currently serving time in a disproportionate assets case), who sees himself as the true inheritor of the former CM’s legacy. His party, represented by him, was the surprise winner in the by-election for Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar constituency held in December 2017, which he won by a margin of 40,707 votes over his nearest rival of the AIADMK.