Three days after the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) snubbed its ally Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) saying that there will be no power-sharing and that Edappadi Palaniswami will be its chief ministerial candidate in the meeting election, the saffron party on Wednesday acknowledged that the Dravidian party is the big brother in the alliance.
Referring to the chief ministerial candidate, the BJP’s national secretary and Tamil Nadu in-charge CT Ravi to begin with said that the NDA coordination committee will take a call on the CM before conceding that the decision would be of the majority party (AIADMK) in the alliance.
“Across India BJP leads the NDA but in Tamil Nadu, it’s the AIADMK and we are the minor partners. Obviously, they (AIADMK) will take the decisions including the chief minister candidate,” Ravi said. “Officially, the NDA coordination committee will announce it.”
BJP leaders have underlined that announcing chief minister candidate is an issue of procedure which has been made into a controversy. “From our party’s side, only national (BJP) president J P Nadda can make political announcements,” said a senior BJP state leader not wishing to be named. Nadda’s visit to Chennai has been postponed since he contracted Covid-19 earlier this month. “But the situation may change after elections depending on our performance,” the BJP leader said.
The BJP is expecting to negotiate between 40-50 seats out of the 234 meeting constituencies in the state. In its alliance with the AIADMK for final year’s Lok Sabha elections, BJP contested in five out of the 39 parliamentary seats but drew a blank. The BJP which has no MLA or MP from the state, will also negotiate for cabinet positions but a source said that they were bendy on that aspect. Ravi, alternatively, said that they’re going to take a decision on ministerial positions after the election results.
Earlier in the day, Ravi had tweeted that the NDA would announce the chief minister candidate after elections. But in the next tweet, he elucidated that the chief minister will be from the largest partner. A majority of BJP and AIADMK leaders see Ravi’s commentary as ironing out differences that arose prior to now few months over this issue.
“We were upset but there appears to be better understanding now,” said a senior AIADMK leader on condition of anonymity. “Cadres from the lower rung up to the top leadership have now accepted our alliance with the BJP. But, of class lesson, a section of us are aware that Tamil Nadu people aren’t in favour of the BJP and we will win even without them. But some ministers think we may lose without the BJP.”
The alliance which was once formed ahead of final year’s Lok Sabha elections has seen posturing from both sides on quite a lot of issues. After Jayalalithaa’s death in 2016, the BJP made its way through a weakened AIADMK. The ruling state government has supported the Centre’s schemes such as the three new farm bills, CAA and triple talaq. But recently the AIADMK has also asserted itself by rallying for the state like bringing in 7.5% reservation to government school students who lucid The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and opposing the three-language formula in the National Education Policy.
Their ties are also influenced by outside factors such as actor Rajinikanth’s exit from politics and VK Sasikala’s imminent release from jail in January. “There appears to be internal tensions but both AIADMK and BJP haven’t any other option but to remain in the alliance,” said S Anandhi, political commentator and professor at Madras Institute of Development Studies. “We will be able to realize in the coming days on who calls the shots all through seat sharing and agreeing on the chief ministerial candidate.”
There was once unease inside the AIADMK camp which had made remarkable announcements on Palaniswami’s candidature and continuing the alliance which the BJP had neither countered nor reciprocated until now. It annoyed the AIADMK when several BJP state leaders continued to make statements that the next chief minister of Tamil Nadu will be their choice and there generally is a coalition government — which they’ve now stopped.