NDA of 2014 unravels in Tamil Nadu

Vaiko goes with Left, Vijayakanth plays hard to get, Anbumani Ramadoss wants to be CM.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Updated: March 23, 2016 10:38:07 am
tamil nadu elections, tamil nadu polls, tamil nadu assembly elections, dmdk, aiadmk, jayalalithaa, chennai news, tamil nadu news, india news Vaiko, Vijayakanth, Anbumani have quit alliance; Vasan doesn’t look interested

BJP president Amit Shah will visit Chennai on Wednesday, his itinerary including a religious event but no major political programmes in a state where the party no longer has the major allies who had cobbled together 19 per cent of the vote in the Lok Sabha polls two years ago. Shah will attend a function of Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswathi and meet party leaders but has no meeting lined up with prospective allies.

The BJP had been the first to begin its poll preparations, as early as January 2015, but its key 2014 partners — DMDK, PMK and MDMK — have since left the alliance one by one. Of other former allies, E R Eswaran’s KMDK feels the BJP has become arrogant. The BJP had 26 allies in 2014.

Efforts to retain Captain Vijayakanth’s DMDK haven’t worked even after top central leaders sent emissaries to woo him. And the state BJP made it clear that Shah will not be meeting Vijayakanth.

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“There is no room for any doubt,” BJP state president Tamilisai Soundararajan told The Indian Express. “We held several rounds of talks with Vijayakanth as he was part of the NDA, but we presume he has his own personal aspirations. We cannot compromise. We are not desperate to get any party on board, though we will go into the election with parties that are willing to join us.”

Soundararajan said the party is confident of winning the polls. The BJP might also seek to tie up with several smaller caste outfits. G K Vasan’s Tamil Manila Congress could have been a prospective ally but he is weighing the DMK and AIADMK as options.

Of the BJP’s major allies from 2014, the MDMK led by Vaiko has joined the People’s Welfare Alliance of Left parties. The PMK, which enjoys considerable support within the OBC-Vanniyar community in the northern districts, remains adamant on its demand that party founder S Ramadoss’s son Anbumani be projected as CM candidate. bSoundararajan said there has been progress in talks with the PMK.

Sources in Vasan’s TMC, however, said they have no plans to ally with the BJP. They have had talks with the DMK and the AIADMK. “The AIADMK may be a better option. Vasan could meet J Jayalalithaa soon for seat-sharing talks,” said a senior leader.

Eswaran’s KMDK, prominent in Kongu region, broke up with the BJP three months ago. With the votes it had brought to the alliance, his party had helped the NDA end second runner-up in at least four seats — Pollachi, Coimbatore, Tirupur and Erode.

“Just because they are in power in Delhi, they thought that people here would be behind him,” Eswaran said. “They are mistaken. Whatever support we extended in the Lok Sabha elections was for Modi, not for the BJP. We admit that we went with the Modi wave, but we need not repeat it again.”

He said there was no NDA left after the Lok Sabha elections. “Even Amit Shah’s much celebrated Madurai visit in August 2015 and his attempt to build an OBC-Dalit axis was a failure. None of their social engineering strategies took off,” he said.

Another caste outfit, Maaveeran Theeran Chinnamalai Peravai of OBCs, has already announced support for AIADMK.

As most of the potential allies have already committed their support to either the DMK or the AIADMK alliances, there was speculation for some time that the BJP might tie up with the ruling AIADMK. Even that seems unlikely now. Since Monday, the BJP’s official Twitter handle has started posting attacks against Jayalalithaa. One of these posts mocks Jayalalithaa for her absence from public space, another suggests draws a cartoon of her aide Sasikala pulling puppet strings from behind a curtain.

A senior BJP leader admitted that there had been mistakes on the part of BJP leading to the unravelling of the alliance. He said the BJP has decided to take on the AIADMK more than other parties. “It was the controversies surrounding intolerance and several other issues at the Centre that spoiled our relations with allies here,” the leader said. “Now we need to start from scratch again.”

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