AIADMK’s fresh salvo at Annamalai leaves its alliance with BJP in tatters

The tenuous equations between the AIADMK and the BJP have become more pronounced during the innings of Annamalai in the national party

September 19, 2023 10:02 pm | Updated September 26, 2023 01:37 pm IST - CHENNAI

The outburst of the AIADMK’s organisation secretary and former Fisheries Minister, D. Jayakumar, was triggered by BJP State unit president K. Annamalai’s remarks on DMK founder and former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai.

The outburst of the AIADMK’s organisation secretary and former Fisheries Minister, D. Jayakumar, was triggered by BJP State unit president K. Annamalai’s remarks on DMK founder and former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai.

The AIADMK’s announcement of “separation of ties” with the BJP on Monday seems to have added another layer of complexity to the already-strained relationship between the two parties.

The outburst of the AIADMK’s organisation secretary and former Fisheries Minister, D. Jayakumar, was triggered by BJP State unit president K. Annamalai’s remarks on DMK founder and former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai. But, as Mr. Jayakumar pointed out, this was not the only occasion when Mr. Annamalai had “targeted” front-ranking leaders of the Dravidian Movement. He had “belittled” others such as ‘Periyar’ E.V. Ramasamy and Jayalalithaa, the former Minister recalled. In June, the BJP leader’s observations on Jayalalithaa had even prompted the AIADMK to adopt a resolution against him. The motion had described him as “politically inexperienced and immature.”

The tenuous equations between the two parties became more pronounced during the innings of Mr. Annamalai. Exactly two months after the AIADMK lost power in the May 2021 Assembly poll, former Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam blamed the BJP for his party’s defeat as the alliance had “alienated” the minorities. But the party’s current general secretary, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, who was the party co-coordinator back then, and O. Panneerselvam, the coordinator, lost no time in stating that the alliance continued.

However, Mr. Annamalai’s appointment shortly thereafter had changed the nature of the relationship. In February 2022, the State unit of the BJP contested the urban local body polls on its own. Three months later, veteran AIADMK leader C. Ponnaiyan came down heavily on the BJP for seeking to grow at the expense of his party in the State. Since then, the Dravidian major and the State unit of the national party have been engaged in spats at regular intervals, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi continuing with his “outreach programme” focusing on the glory of Tamil Nadu and Tamil language and culture.

What is also evident is that the BJP does not want to call off its relationship with the AIADMK, if the importance given to Mr. Palaniswami by the BJP, at a meeting of leaders of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in New Delhi two months ago, is any indication. The Dravidian major, too, has not ruled out the possibility of a rapprochement, as Mr. Jayakumar has maintained that a decision on alliance would be made at the time of the Lok Sabha election. Mr. Palaniswami’s “swift support” earlier this month for the concept of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies can hardly be ignored.

Sources in the AIADMK claim that the national party has begun approaching Mr. Palaniswami for a compromise, whereas a functionary of the BJP says he is not aware of any such initiative. Yet, BJP State vice-president Narayanan Thirupathy had on Monday stated in a social media post that the alliance between the two parties remained “intact, rock solid.” He even tagged the official social media (X) handles of the AIADMK and the national unit of the BJP to his post.

However, the latest development is viewed differently by sources in the AIADMK and the BJP. As far as the AIADMK is concerned, the announcement will seek to erase the notion that the party is a “slave” of the BJP, whereas certain sections of the national leadership wonder whether a patch-up, even if worked out later, would pave the way for the BJP to bag some Lok Sabha seats.

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