STATE OF PLAY Comment

The BJP-AIADMK spat and rapprochement 

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Edappadi K.  Palaniswami and O. Pannerselvam in Chennai.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Edappadi K. Palaniswami and O. Pannerselvam in Chennai. | Photo Credit: RAGU R.

The recent spat between the AIADMK and the BJP regarding who the “effective and principal” Opposition party in Tamil Nadu is has again brought to the fore their uneasy relationship. The two parties parted ways in late January over the issue of seat-sharing in the polls to the urban local bodies. Yet, AIADMK coordinator O. Panneerselvam and co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami have maintained cordial equations with the BJP leadership, which also appears to be favourably disposed towards them. This was evident from the Prime Minister’s demeanour when he interacted with the two leaders during his visit to Chennai on May 26 to inaugurate infrastructure projects. Earlier, the AIADMK was able to get the backing of the BJP as well as the Pattali Makkal Katchi, another erstwhile ally, for the election of its two candidates — C.Ve. Shanmugam and R. Dharmar — to the Rajya Sabha.

When everything appeared to be normal, the AIADMK organisation secretary C. Ponnaiyan’s outburst against the BJP came as a bolt from the blue. Addressing a workshop organised by the party’s Puratchi Thalaivi Peravai for its office-bearers on May 31, Mr. Ponnaiyan, who served under three Chief Ministers and held various portfolios, said even though the BJP was “an ally” of his party, its growth in the State did “not augur well for the AIADMK, Tamil Nadu and Dravidian policies.” He accused the national party of seeking to grow at the expense of his party in the State and indulging in “double-dealing” on inter-State disputes concerning the Cauvery river and the Mullaperiyar dam.

A key reason for the AIADMK’s veteran to lash out at the BJP could be the way the national party has been making efforts to enlarge its space in the State politics. This trend became more visible when L. Murugan, now Union Minister of State, was the BJP unit president from March 2020 to July 2021. Improving upon the approach, his successor, K. Annamalai, is taking on the ruling DMK on every issue, attempting to create a perception that the BJP is a fast-growing party in Tamil Nadu.

Mr. Annamalai reacted to Mr. Ponniayan’s charge saying it the AIADMK senior leader’s personal opinion. It was his party’s vice-presidents — V.P. Duraisamy and Karu Nagarajan — who launched a full-blown attack on the former Minister. Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswami initially stayed silent. This was in contrast to last July when Mr. Palaniswami issued a statement reiterating that the AIADMK’s alliance with the BJP would continue, after Mr. Shanmugam cited the alliance as the factor for the loss of support of religious minorities during the Assembly elections. Later, when the co-coordinator shot back at Mr. Duraisamy saying that the BJP’s vice-president did not have to certify the AIADMK’s functioning as the principal Opposition party, Mr. Panneerselvam sought to put a lid on the controversy by calling Mr. Ponnaiyan’s observations his personal view.

The exchange of words seems to have come to an end with both Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Palaniswami greeting Mr. Annamalai on Twitter on Saturday on his birthday. On Sunday, the BJP State president went on record saying that his party colleagues should not express any personal opinion on the AIADMK without the leadership’s permission. At the same time, he made it clear that his party had never entertained the thought of seeking to grow in the State at the cost of the AIADMK. A message also came from the AIADMK’s spokesperson and former Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar that there was no split between his party and the national party.

ramakrishnan.t@thehindu.co.in


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Printable version | Sep 25, 2022 8:27:40 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-bjp-aiadmk-spat-and-rapprochementin-tamil-nadu/article65497414.ece