Tamil Nadu

News analysis | AIADMK’s support for Citizenship Amendment Act poses new challenge for party

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami greets Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami greets Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File   | Photo Credit: Vijay Kumar S.

​For the Opposition, the ruling party’s stand is viewed as yet another instance of the Dravidian party’s ‘capitulation’ to the national party. ​

​The AIADMK’s ambivalence towards the BJP has again come to the fore in the wake of its support for the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act. ​

Tamil Nadu’s ruling party, which contested the last Lok Sabha elections as an ally of the BJP and got virtually washed out in the polls, began to subsequently maintain a ‘respectable distance’ with the latter. During the Vellore parliamentary election in August, the AIADMK did not give the national party much of a role in the campaign. Around the same time, the Triple Talaq bill was debated in Parliament. And even though the AIADMK’s lone Lok Sabha member, P. Raveendranath Kumar, backed the legislation, the party adopted a different stand in the Rajya Sabha by speaking against the Bill and staging a walkout in protest. ​

Two months later, during the Vikravandi and Nanguneri Assembly bypolls, the ruling party sought the support of the BJP, even though it subsequently sought to project an impression of having essentially relied on its own base and resources to capture the seats. ​

It is against this backdrop that the AIADMK’s defence of the CAA has triggered a political row in Tamil Nadu. ​

​For the Opposition, the ruling party’s stand is viewed as yet another instance of the Dravidian party’s “capitulation” to the national party. ​

​“Any close observation of the conduct of the ruling party in the last couple of years will tell you that they [AIADMK] have been consistently supporting the BJP-led government at the Centre,” asserted Manithaneya Makkal Katchi founder M.H. Jawahirullah. “Be it the UDAY scheme or the NEET, the AIADMK had only toed the line of the Union government though its general secretary and former Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, had vigorously opposed such measures,” ​he said.

​A senior leader of the AIADMK, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was “wrong” to say that his party had reversed its position on the BJP. “We are neither maintaining a distance with them [BJP] nor having utmost proximity. We are holding on to our own identity, without compromising on the Dravidian principles,” the leader said, adding that safeguarding the interests of minorities had always been a matter of priority for his party.​

P. Ramajayam, an academician who has been part of several opinion poll surveys in the State, opined that the AIADMK’s latest stand was unlikely to cost it dearly. “To some extent, it may suffer in minority-dominant areas in terms of electoral politics but there would not be much adverse impact on the whole,” he contended. ​

However, Mr. Jawahirullah viewed the situation differently. “People, across religious lines, are opposing the CAA, if one were to go by reports from other parts of the country. The same holds good here too. So, it is a fallacy to say that the support for the CAA would not go against the AIADMK electorally,” he said. ​

The immediate test for the ruling party will be the polls to rural local bodies in the last week of December. “I am not sure whether electors in the local bodies will be exercising their franchise on the basis of constitutional or broader legal issues,” observed Mr. Ramajayam. But, what is certain is that the AIADMK’s stance towards the BJP will remain a subject of public discourse for at least some time to come. ​

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 3:23:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/news-analysis-aiadmks-support-for-citizenship-amendment-act-poses-new-challenge-for-party/article30330598.ece

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