BJP president Amit Shah’s announcement of his party’s willingness to form an electoral alliance in Tamil Nadu has triggered a debate on who the saffron party would align with while contesting the Lok Sabha polls in 2019.
Though the ruling party at the Centre being open to an electoral tie-up in the State is not surprising, given the BJP’s strength in Tamil Nadu, the matter has acquired greater curiosity as Mr. Shah had harped on the theme of corruption.
Senior BJP leader L. Ganesan, who took part in internal deliberations with Mr. Shah on Monday as well as in a rally later in the day, said that the core message that the party president delivered was that an alliance was inevitable under the given circumstances, and that the government which the BJP and its prospective allies would form will be “corruption-free”. The party with which the BJP would join hands was a matter to be decided later.
Mr. Ganesan, a Rajya Sabha MP, claimed that when Mr. Shah spoke about corruption, he did not have the AIADMK in mind. “It was a general statement. What he meant was the need for developing an alternative system and political culture,” he said.
However, G. Palanithurai, Professor, Department of Political Science and Development Administration, Gandhigram Rural Institute, felt that barring the Congress and the Left, anyone could join the BJP, as “such a scenario is possible in an era bereft of ideology.” This did not exclude the AIADMK, the DMK or the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam. Besides, parties which had worked with the BJP in the past might ally with the national party, which was part of the ruling coalition in more States when compared to the Congress, he felt.
‘Sign of frustration’
But DMK organising secretary R.S. Bharathi strongly countered the suggestion that his party could be a potential partner for the BJP. He did not, however, rule out the possibility of the BJP aligning with the AIADMK, saying in that case, the national party could find reasons to justify such a tie-up.
Maruthu Alagaraj, a spokesperson for the AIADMK, was of the view that when leaders of national parties — be it the Congress or the BJP — visited Tamil Nadu, it had become customary for them to level allegations against either of the two Dravidian majors.
“I would view Mr. Shah’s statement on corruption as a sign of frustration because everyone knows the strength of his party. Yet, if there is any basis in what he has said, we will take it as a constructive suggestion and address it,” he said, adding that the question of alliance will be decided by the AIADMK after holding consultations with party cadre and at the executive and general council.