A day after Union Minister Prakash Javadekar gave an evasive response to a question if Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami was the NDA’s candidate for the top job in 2021, a few State Ministers expressed their opinions on the issue on Saturday.
Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar, regarded the spokesperson of the State government, rejected Mr. Javadekar’s contention that the BJP central leadership would decide on the Chief Minister candidate. “This will certainly not apply to our State. I don’t know which State he is talking about. We [AIADMK] have won seven out of 10 elections in our State with a majority,” Mr. Jayakumar said.
Cooperation Minister Sellur K. Raju had a different take. “The BJP is a national party. The national leader can announce it [CM candidate]. If it is a regional party, anyone can announce,” he said in Madurai, implying that since the BJP and the AIADMK were part of the NDA, the national party might want to declare the candidate.
In Kovilpatti, Information Minister Kadambur C. Raju said, “Like how Narendra Modi was the Prime Minister and faced the elections saying he would be the PM candidate, we have nominated our leader Edappadi K. Palaniswami as the CM candidate.” He pointed out that the AIADMK leadership had declared in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah that the alliance would continue for the Assembly polls. “BJP president J.P. Nadda has to say it [now]. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to say it. All the statements made by the BJP functionaries here could not be considered,” he felt.
Meanwhile, senior AIADMK leader and Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam has hinted that there was a conspiracy to freeze the party’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol. At an internal party meeting on Friday evening, Mr. Shanmugam said, “[AIADMK founder] MGR’s political heir is ‘Two Leaves’... But there is a big threat to it. We have been in power, we are in power, we have the Chief Minister. But, there is a big conspiracy going on.”
‘Life or death’
Calling on party cadre to work hard towards securing a win in the 2021 polls, Mr. Shanmugam said: “This election is life or death for us. To realise the words of Amma [former CM Jayalalithaa] that this movement would live on for over 100 years, we have to win this election.”
“We have to celebrate the golden jubilee [in 2022] of the AIADMK while we are in power,” he added.