The AIADMK and the BJP agreed on Tuesday to contest the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry together along with other NDA allies and sealed a pact in which the BJP will contest five of the 39 seats in the state.
Announcing the alliance after a three-hour meeting at a Chennai hotel, AIADMK coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said the AIADMK and BJP will contest the Lok Sabha elections with a “mega, victorious alliance”.
While the parties are yet to decide the exact number of seats the AIADMK will contest, the BJP also agreed to support the AIADMK in the 21 Assembly bypolls pending in the state, which are expected to be held with the Lok Sabha polls.
Before the formal announcement, NDA partner S Ramadoss’s PMK, which holds sway among the significant OBC-Vanniyar community in northern Tamil Nadu, was given seven seats in the AIADMK-NDA alliance.
Union minister Piyush Goyal, who is BJP’s leader in-charge of Tamil Nadu, said he was “extremely delighted” that AIADMK and BJP “concluded a very fruitful discussion and agreed to contest together”.
Some rift within, may help DMK
The alliance between AIADMK and the BJP-led NDA in Tamil Nadu is being presented as a mega-alliance, and the ruling AIADMK in the state also hopes that the NDA’s support, especially that of the PMK, will help it perform well in 21 Assembly bypolls that are scheduled any time now. But a strong undercurrent within the AIADMK leadership, and among its cadres, against an alliance with BJP remains a threat. It is feared that hardcore AIADMK cadres who disagree with the BJP may end up backing Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) chief and former AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran in seats the NDA will contest.
“We will win all 40 seats (39 in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry) led by the NDA at the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the AIADMK in the state under the leadership of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Deputy CM Panneerselvam,” said Goyal.
“We will sweep this election as a mark of respect to J Jayalalithaa (late Chief Minister and AIADMK chief), who was the leader of the people of Tamil Nadu.”
Recalling his last interaction with her in July 2015, he said, “Every karyakarta of the BJP, cadres and leaders of AIADMK and PMK will work together for the success of this alliance.”
Incidentally, talks are still on with another NDA ally, Captain Vijayakanth’s DMDK. After initial talks with L K Sudheesh, deputy general secretary of DMDK and Vijayakanth’s brother-in-law, at the same hotel where the AIADMK-BJP talks were held, Goyal was seen visiting Vijayakanth at his residence near Vadapalani.
DMDK sources said they have demanded nine seats and a Rajya Sabha nomination too. “The talks began with an offer of three seats from AIADMK. We have demanded nine seats and a Rajya Sabha seat for Vijayakanth’s wife Premalatha. We are yet to conclude,” said a senior DMDK leader.
A senior BJP leader said they were willing to give the DMDK a maximum of five seats.