Panneerselvam vs Sasikala: AIADMK split may help BJP gain foothold in Tamil Nadu politics
Even as the possibility of a spilt looms large over the AIADMK, the BJP is revelling in the hope of a new realignment that would allow it a larger footprint in Tamil Nadu’s Dravidian politics.india Updated: Feb 14, 2017 07:15 IST
Even as the possibility of a spilt looms large over the AIADMK, the BJP is revelling in the hope of a new realignment that would allow it a larger footprint in Tamil Nadu’s Dravidian politics.
For the BJP, O Panneerselvam is more favourable than VK Sasikala – who is trying to use her personal history with late J Jayalalithaa to achieve political prominence.
Panneerselvam, who succeeded Jayalalithaa as the chief minister before being shunted out by Sasikala, enjoys a good rapport with the BJP. The brightest moment for chief minister Panneerselvam was when his appeal to restart Jallikattu — the bull-taming event held in Tamil Nadu — received a favourable response from the Centre.
A senior BJP leader, who is also a Union minister, told HT on the condition of anonymity that this was indeed a good time for his party to consolidate its position in the state. “We must actively pursue the possibility of emerging as the third alternative in Tamil Nadu,” he said.
The saffron party, which currently holds minimal footprint in Tamil Nadu politics, sees a greater chance of allying with the Panneerselvam faction if a split is formalised. The disgruntled AIADMK leader already has a working relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as his party’s top brass, and maintains regular contact with a certain BJP minister from a neighbouring state.
“As there are no elections on the horizon, not even at the municipal level, we have time to consolidate our base,” the minister said.
Modi and Jayalalithaa were quite close during her tenure. The late chief minister was the first person from an outside party to welcome Modi’s elevation to the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The NDA government had also reached an understanding with Jayalalithaa over the GST bill. Despite her opposition to the tax regime, she instructed her MPs to abstain from voting in this regard.
“We don’t anticipate trouble from either party as far as affability towards the BJP is concerned. Whether it is the DMK or the AIADMK, my party does not expect trouble for the decisions it makes vis-a-vis central issues or even centre-state issues,” said a BJP leader.
The Congress, however, is seeing red. “Even as the governor refuses to conduct the swearing-in ceremony, an outgoing Tamil Nadu chief minister rebels. Is PM Modi trying to bring down one more elected govt?” tweeted Randeep Surjewala, chief of the party’s communication department.
“BJP has attained mastery in the art of defection, post Uttarakhand, Arunachal, Assam & UP. Is a repeat happening in Tamil Nadu?” he wondered in another tweet.