Updated: June 2, 2022 7:17:15 am
Five years since it entered into an electoral alliance with the BJP, the under-the-surface anti-saffron party sentiments within the AIADMK, mainly driven by the “anti-Tamil” policies of the Central government, are finally out in the open.
AIADMK organisational secretary C Ponnaiyan on Tuesday accused the BJP-led Central government of stealing state’s revenue, besides blaming the party for the poll defeats, losing minority community support, and “anti-Tamil” policies, especially those concerning the students.
There were disagreements among the AIADMK leaders over the alliance with the BJP from the start, but none, including Ponnaiyan, ever criticised the saffron party publicly.
After Ponnaiyan’s remarks at a workshop organised for the party office-bearers, he told The Indian Express that the alliance with the BJP was an “electoral understanding” to take on the DMK. “We have an ideology that is different from BJP’s…even as we are in alliance, we disagree with them on many things; we are against Hindi…we don’t endorse their language policy. Narendra Modi government’s support to Rajapaksas was wrong; India should have been supporting Sri Lankan Tamils instead,” said Ponnaiyan.
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“We also oppose the NEET. In a state like Tamil Nadu where CBSE schools are not very common, our students fail to clear the NEET that is largely based on the CBSE syllabi. Ever since the NEET system was introduced, admissions to our medical colleges are largely from North India, which go against the interests of the students of Tamil Nadu,” he said.
The veteran leader said the Central government was stealing the state’s revenue in the name of the GST in violation of the fundamental norms of the federalism. “We hate this highly centralised style of governance. We will not compromise on these issues,” he said.
The outburst against the BJP comes against the backdrop of a growing perception in Tamil Nadu that the BJP is performing the role of the main Opposition party, while the AIADMK is not putting up a spirited fight to take on the ruling DMK. Also, the feedback from the party cadres was against the alliance, especially after the Hindi language row. Political observers feel that the AIADMK wants to go to the 2024 general elections with a clean image.
Ponnaiyan’s sudden outburst against the BJP, reportedly with the blessings of Edappadi K Palaniswami, has triggered debates on the chances of AIADMK snapping ties with the saffron party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Ponnaiyan said it was 100 per cent true that the alliance with the BJP did alienate the minority community voters of the party. “That was the reason for minorities voting against us in the recent elections,” he said. Will they continue the alliance? He said they will decide at the right time.
The AIADMK fought the 2021 Assembly election in alliance with the BJP, PMK and other smaller parties. The saffron party won four seats and the alliance, in total bagged 75 seats in the 234-member Assembly. The DMK-led coalition won 159 seats.
When asked on why Sasikala was being kept out of the party if the key challenge was to defeat the DMK, Ponnaiyan said there was a feeling among the public that it was Sasikala’s negligence that led to the death of former chief minister and party supremo J Jayalalithaa. “That was the main reason for snapping ties with Sasikala,” he said.
What if Sasikala is going to be exonerated by the Justice A Arumughaswamy Commission probing the Jayalalithaa’s death? “We will see that after the verdict,” he said.
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