BJP aims for foothold in Tamil Nadu through local body pollshttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/bjp-aims-for-foothold-in-tamil-nadu-through-local-body-polls-6108741/

BJP aims for foothold in Tamil Nadu through local body polls

It is learnt that the NDA and the ruling AIADMK may agree on a 50-50 seat-sharing formula for the about 1.25 lakh seats and the BJP is looking to get at least 15 per cent seats from the NDA’s share.

It is learnt that the NDA and the ruling AIADMK may agree on a 50-50 seat-sharing formula for the about 1.25 lakh seats and the BJP is looking to get at least 15 per cent seats from the NDA’s share.

The BJP is looking to get a foothold in Tamil Nadu through the much-delayed local body polls, which are set to be announced soon.

It is learnt that the NDA and the ruling AIADMK may agree on a 50-50 seat-sharing formula for the about 1.25 lakh seats and the BJP is looking to get at least 15 per cent seats from the NDA’s share.

Top sources in the AIADMK confirm that they will have to share half of seats with the NDA, also comprising the PMK and the DMDK.

These seats comprise posts in municipal corporations, municipalities and panchayats.

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A senior AIADMK minister said, “The percentage of share has been decided. Details of the deal, number of seats for NDA in rural and urban bodies and the key demand of three mayor posts for BJP are to be finalised,” said the minister, adding that his party is “almost sure” that the Coimbatore mayor post may go to the BJP. But, he said, AIADMK cannot afford to give three mayor posts to a single party, as the BJP has demanded. “BJP wants one mayor post in a prominent city and two in smaller cities,” he said.

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A win-win situation for BJP

Irrespective of how many seats it eventually wins, the BJP would emerge as a key player in Tamil Nadu politics if it manages to contest 10,000-odd seats as part of its alliance with AIADMK for the local body polls. But for AIADMK, which is ruling the state for nearly nine years now, another alliance pact with the BJP after the setback in the Lok Sabha polls is going to be tricky terrain.

A senior BJP leader involved in the negotiations said there will be hundreds of BJP leaders in the state’s local bodies after this election. “This is going to be historic. BJP hopes to win 3,000 to 5,000 seats… we will rule corporations, we will have at least three mayors when we used to have only a handful of panchayat members and councillors in the past,” he said.

According to the BJP leader, a good show in the local body polls will help the BJP and the RSS grow faster in the state. “More than MLAs and MPs, elected representatives in rural and urban bodies will help make the party powerful at the grassroots,” he said.

BJP national general secretary H Raja said, “It is too early.I cannot talk about the alliance deal and number of seats. But I can undoubtedly say that AIADMK is part of NDA alliance in this local body election,” he said.

Raja added that this is a very important election for NDA as the BJP and the AIADMK were routed in the Lok Sabha polls, but the AIADMK managed to win the recently held bypolls. “The Opposition had managed to mislead people (in the Lok Sabha polls) against us. But people have realised the mistake, DMK is nowhere near victory in local body polls,” he said.

C Ponnaiyan, AIADMK organising secretary, said the NDA is part of the AIADMK alliance in the local body polls. Asked about reports of AIADMK sharing half of the total seats with NDA allies, he said, “There is no doubt about NDA alliance… But it may be premature… to talk on seat-sharing decisions taken before the election is announced.”