Having backed O Panneerselvam in the crisis that hit AIADMK soon after former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death, the BJP is now banking on the “vacuum” expected to be created in the ruling party after V K Sasikala’s conviction by Supreme Court to get a toehold in the state.
On Tuesday, as chances of Panneerselvam staying on as CM reduced, with most MLAs in the Sasikala camp holding firm and not flocking to the caretaker chief minister’s side, the BJP said that the state government will not be stable, as it does not have popular support.
The party also indicated that Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao has to take “credibility” into consideration while inviting any leader to form the next government.
BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao, who is the party’s Tamil Nadu affairs in-charge, said that the AIADMK cannot win people’s trust with a “proxy” leadership. Calling it a “self-inflicted” crisis, Rao said, “The AIADMK could have avoided it had its leaders not acted in haste.” Pointing out that a “disintegration” of AIADMK has already begun, a BJP leader, hinting at the party’s next strategy in the state, said, “There will be a vacuum for a strong alternative. BJP has to take advantage of that.”
In the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court judgment convicting Sasikala, the BJP will take the “high moral ground” since the party has “always stood for clean and corruption-free politics”, a senior party leader said. “Now our focus will be the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” the leader said. “We will prepare strategies for whatever comes in between (among others the Presidential election in which BJP requires support from parties such as AIADMK to get its nominee in Rashtrapati Bhavan).”
Without naming any leader, Rao said, “Sasikala must be hoping to run the government with a proxy. She may be the party’s top leader but stability does not come with numbers. You need public support for stability. Sasikala does not have popular support.”
“The Governor cannot go by mere numbers. He has to go by both numbers and credibility,” Rao said on Sasikala loyalist Edappady K Palaniswami being elected the new legislature party leader of AIADMK
The party feels there are four scenarios before it: first, Palanisami wins majority support; second, Panneerselvam gets the number of MLAs to continue as the CM; third, the DMK tries to split the 133-member AIADMK to form a government with its 89 and Congress’s eight MLAs; and, fourth, imposition of President’s rule if a floor test does not take place. Sources said the party as of now prefers either the second or the last.