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Friday, Dec 06, 2019

Cracks in AIADMK-BJP alliance in Tamil Nadu continue to widen

There was a verbal spat over Tamil superstar Rajinikanth’s comment that there is a political vacuum in Tamil Nadu and now the ruling AIADMK and its ally BJP are sparring over the local body polls.

tamil-nadu Updated: Nov 22, 2019 09:42 IST
M Manikandan
M Manikandan
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (PTI FILE)

The differences in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Tamil Nadu seem to be widening with the ruling AIADMK and its ally BJP publicly bickering over a number of issues.

There was a verbal spat over Tamil superstar Rajinikanth’s comment that there is a political vacuum in Tamil Nadu and now the ruling AIADMK and its ally BJP are sparring over the local body polls.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s leaders have strongly condemned the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government’s promulgation of an ordinance on Wednesday to conduct indirect elections for mayors and other civic body heads.

When Rajinikanth said that the political void continues in Tamil Nadu after the death of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi and AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa, chief minister and AIADMK coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami had slammed the actor’s claim.

“After winning the Vikravandi and Nanguneri assembly by-polls earlier this October, we have proved that there is no political void in the state. People who are giving interviews from their house cannot become CM within a day or two,” EPS had snidely hit out at Rajinikanth.

However, the BJP had endorsed Rajinikanth’s claim. The party’s state general secretary Vanathi Srinivasan had said there is a need for a strong political personality in Tamil Nadu.

“As Rajinikanth said, a political vacuum is remaining in Tamil Nadu. The Tamil matinee icon could fill the vacuum,” she had said.

With the BJP supporting Rajinikanth’s statement, the AIADMK took a swipe at the national party asking it to walk out if they are not willing to continue the alliance.

“If the BJP wants to end the alliance, they can do that. The AIADMK will not be affected in any way. The BJP needs AIADMK more than we need them,” a senior party leader S Semmalai said.

The latest flashpoint is the ordinance promulgated by the state government on indirect elections for mayors. According to the ordinance, the city corporation mayors and heads of municipalities, district panchayat and block panchayat would be elected through indirect elections.

“The council shall, at its first meeting after each ordinary election to the council, elect one of its councillors to be mayors/chairman,” the amendment made in City Corporation Acts and District Municipalities act reads.

Tamil Nadu has more than 120,000 civic body posts, including the mayoral positions in the 15 city corporations.

The BJP finds the indirect elections would lead to horse-trading of councillors.

“The existing direct election for mayors and other heads for the civic bodies should continue. The BJP wants to field more than one lakh candidates for various positions of local bodies,” the party’s leader and former Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan told the media.

Radhakrishnan also said the BJP had not decided on an alliance for the civic polls yet.

“If the ruling party wants to safeguard democracy, the ordinance for indirect elections should be withdrawn,” the treasurer of the BJP’s state unit SR Shekar said.

The AIADMK government has claimed the abolition of the direct election method for mayors would ease the governance progress in civic bodies.

“When a mayor gets elected from a different party and the majority of councillors are from another party, it will affect the functioning of the civic bodies. So, the government has brought the ordinance through which councillors may elect one of them as city corporation mayors and heads of municipalities, district and block panchayat,” the state government said in a statement.

Reacting to the BJP leaders’ statement, Tamil Nadu co-operatives minister and senior AIADMK leader Sellur K Raju alleged alliances are only for elections.

“The indirect election for mayors is a good move. It is not against democracy. We don’t want to comment on BJP leaders since alliances are made only for elections,” Raju maintained.

The rift in the AIADMK-BJP alliance began in September this year when the national party wanted to contest the Kamaraj Nagar legislative assembly by-poll in Puducherry.

When the seat was allocated to the opposition All India NR Congress party by the AIADMK, the BJP felt that it had been shortchanged and declared it would field its candidate independently.

However, after negotiations, the BJP finally did not field its candidate in Kamaraj Nagar by-polls.

Experts say that the BJP’s friction with the AIADMK is due to its desire to woo actor Rajinikanth.

“Since Rajinikanth had announced he would launch a political party before 2021 election, the BJP wants to quit the AIADMK alliance. The saffron party is eyeing on a tie-up with Rajinikanth,” said political analyst Raveendran Duraisamy.

Meanwhile, the AIADMK continued its attacks on Rajinikanth.

“Rajinikanth’s spiritual politics call will never work in the Dravidian land,” state fisheries minister D Jayakumar said on Thursday.

“Tamil Nadu is principle centric state which was nurtured by the Dravidian ideologies. So, communal and spiritual politics never get much scope in TN,” the minister said taunting the BJP and Rajinikanth indirectly.

Rajinikanth, who was returning from Goa after the International Film Festival, responded to the AIADMK minister comments by saying that miracles will happen in the 2021 state assembly elections.

“Tamil Nadu’s people will bring a tremendous miracle in the 2021 assembly elections,” he said while speaking to reporters at the Chennai airport.

Chief minister EPS countered Rajinikanth’s statement, saying the only miracle which is going to happen in 2021 is that the AIADMK will rule the state again.

“Of course, wonders will happen in TN in 2021. An AIADMK man will become CM, and he will rule the state again,” Palaniswami hit back.