The BJP is keeping open the option of fielding its candidate or lending its symbol to another “credible candidate” from the alliance in the event of the alliance leader, AIADMK, not being able to contest on the ‘two leaves’ symbol in the Erode (East) by-election owing to its internal problems, The Hindu has learnt.
Senior BJP leaders this correspondent spoke to said the party was adopting an approach of ‘wait and watch’ at the moment as the filing of nominations begins only on January 31 and ends on February 7.
‘Plenty of time’
Stating there was “plenty of time” in politics, the leaders said the BJP’s decision would largely be determined by whether the AIADMK was able to contest on its symbol or not.
While the AIADMK, led by former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, has earned the endorsement of a dominant section of the organisation, it remains to be seen whether he would get legitimacy as the interim general secretary to sign Forms A and B for the by-election or whether the symbol would be frozen by the Election Commission of India on a contesting claim by ousted coordinator O. Panneerselvam.
Arguing that its key objective was to defeat the candidate of the ruling DMK-backed Congress, BJP sources said it would act in accordance with “alliance dharma” and extend support to the AIADMK’s candidate if the party was able to contest on its ‘two leaves’ symbol.
If it did not happen, the party might consider fielding its candidate with the support of the allies or lend its symbol to a “credible candidate” with a high probability of winning.
Congress leader E.V.K.S. Elangovan has been announced as the candidate of the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance.
The Tamil Maanila Congress, whose candidate contested on the AIADMK’s ‘two leaves’ symbol in Erode (East) in 2021 as part of the National Democratic Alliance, has declared support to an AIADMK candidate.
Leaders of the AIADMK as well as Mr. Panneerselvam and leaders of his faction have met leaders of the BJP, seeking its support. While stating that he would field a candidate, Mr. Panneerselvam had curiously said he would support the BJP if it decided to enter the fray.