Erode (East) bypoll | BJP asks Palaniswami and Panneerselvam to work together in ‘united AIADMK’

The BJP’s meeting with Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Panneerselvam was significant, as uncertainty still looms large over the fielding of a common candidate on behalf of the NDA.

Updated - February 03, 2023 04:23 pm IST

Published - February 03, 2023 03:51 pm IST - CHENNAI

BJP national general secretary and Tamil Nadu (in-charge) C.T. Ravi and Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai in a meeting with AIADMK’s deposed coordinator O. Panneerselvam at Chennai on February 3, 2023

BJP national general secretary and Tamil Nadu (in-charge) C.T. Ravi and Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai in a meeting with AIADMK’s deposed coordinator O. Panneerselvam at Chennai on February 3, 2023 | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

BJP national general secretary and in-charge, Tamil Nadu, C.T. Ravi and Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai on Friday met AIADMK’s interim general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami, and the party’s deposed coordinator O. Panneerselvam, separately in Chennai, in a bid to convince them to work together under a “united AIADMK”.

While so far the BJP has officially maintained that it had stayed away from the feud between Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Panneerselvam by terming it an “internal issue” of the AIADMK, this is perhaps the first time it has openly appealed to the two leaders to work together, ahead of the Erode (East) bypoll.

Addressing journalists after back-to-back meetings with the two leaders, Mr. Ravi said he conveyed the message to both of them “on behalf of BJP’s national president J.P. Nadda”.

He said he tried to convince both of Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Panneerselvam on the need to work together in the interests of Tamil Nadu, and to defeat the DMK and its allies. “We have tried to convince and tried to unite AIADMK,” he said.

BJP national general secretary and Tamil Nadu (in-charge) C.T. Ravi and Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai in a meeting with AIADMK interim general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Friday

BJP national general secretary and Tamil Nadu (in-charge) C.T. Ravi and Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai in a meeting with AIADMK interim general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Friday | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Terming the DMK as an “evil force,” he said a united National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and a united AIADMK were needed to defeat it.

According to him, there were anti-incumbency sentiments against the DMK government and the party was trying to win the Erode (East) byelection, in which its ally Congress is contesting, through “money power” and misuse of government machinery.

The BJP’s meeting with Mr. Palaniswami and Mr. Panneerselvam was significant, as uncertainty still looms large over the fielding of a common candidate on behalf of the NDA. The meeting took place a day after Mr. Annamalai’s visit to New Delhi on Thursday, February 2, 2023.

Mr. Palaniswami had announced former legislator K.S. Thennarasu as the “official” candidate of AIADMK. Mr. Panneerselvam also announced Senthil Murugan as his faction’s candidate, but with a caveat that he would withdraw the candidate if the BJP fielded its own.

When asked about the BJP’s position on the Erode (East) byelection if a united AIADMK did not materialise, Mr. Ravi said there was time till February 7, the last date for filing nominations. He refused to divulge details on what the responses of the two leaders was, to the BJP’s appeal for unity.

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