Tamil Nadu: AIADMK-BJP rift widens, but will it last till the elections?

There are eight former AIADMK ministers under the ED scanner

Narendra Modi and Edappadi K.Palanisami Narendra Modi and Edappadi K.Palanisami

The AIADMK in Tamil Nadu on Monday announced that it is not in alliance with the BJP anymore and any decision on this will be taken during the election. 

“BJP is not in alliance with the AIADMK. We will decide about the alliance during the elections. This is not my personal view. This is our party’s view. BJP cadres want an alliance with the AIADMK. Annamalai doesn’t want an alliance. He always criticises our leaders. He is unfit to be BJP state president,” says AIADMK spokesperson and former minister D. Jayakumar. 

Just a couple of days before, when BJP was gearing up to meet leaders of its alliance partners before the parliament session, Palanisami flew from Chennai to Delhi to call on Amit Shah and BJP leader J.P. Nadda. The meeting lasted for more than two hours. While Tamil TV channels called it a meeting to discuss Lok Sabha election seat sharing, highly placed sources within the AIADMK told THE WEEK that Palanisami promised all support during the parliament session to Shah and Nadda, even when the AIADMK doesn’t have big numbers. 

After coming back, sources say that the second-rank leaders like C.Ve. Shanmugam and others who weren’t happy with Palanisami's posturing before the Delhi leaders and also Annamalai’s growing clout within the alliance, decided to call it off. It all began with Shanmugam, criticising Annamalai during a public meeting. Annamalai in return criticised the AIADMK leaders saying they are crossing their limits. 

However, this is not the first time that the AIADMK has said that there are no ties with the BJP and that the alliance will be decided in the run-up to the election. During the Erode East Assembly bypoll, the two parties - particularly the second-rank leaders of the AIADMK and BJP chief Annamalai were at loggerheads. The television channels ran hourlong debates and discussions on the rift in the alliance. But, within a week, Palanisami along with his party colleagues and Annamalai went all the way to Delhi to call on Amit Shah. Coming out after the meeting he said the alliance continues. 

In the past six years, since the death of Jayalalithaa, Palanisami has neither criticised the BJP nor said that his party will not continue in the NDA alliance. After the INDIA alliance meeting in Patna, when NDA partners met under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Edappadi Palanisami rushed to Delhi and ensured that he gets space next to Modi while posing for photos.

In fact, Palanisami, a few weeks later in his off-record chat with opinion makers and a few journalists in Chennai, had expressed that the alliance with the BJP has come a long way and there is no looking back. He even expressed that breaking the alliance may cost the party and his leadership position. Incidentally, the AIADMK doesn’t have the liberty or the manoeuvring space to walk out of the NDA. There are eight former ministers under the ED scanner and most of them are in close contacts with the Delhi high command. 

While AIADMK doesn’t have the guts to jettison the BJP, the national party doesn’t have any other option other than aligning with the former. But if EPS thinks otherwise, then AIADMK may witness many twists and turns. No wonder he might have surprises within the party and visitors from the ED and the CBI. 


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