With the BJP and Shiv Sena announcing a poll deal in Maharashtra on Monday, Union minister Piyush Goyal is set to visit Chennai on Tuesday to finalise the BJP’s alliance with Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK.
Although the BJP had sought a 20-20 share for the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu and the one in Puducherry, the party is learnt to have finally agreed on a formula in which the BJP and its NDA partners will get 15 seats, leaving the remaining 25 for the AIADMK.
Of the 15, the BJP is expected to field candidates in eight seats and leave the remaining for allies such as actor-politician Vijayakanth’s DMDK, Anbumani Ramadoss’s PMK and smaller parties like the Puthiya Thamizhagam.
According to sources in the BJP, the leadership of both the BJP and AIADMK had been waiting to hear from actor-turned-politician Rajnikanth, whom they had expected to come on board for an electoral understanding. But Rajnikanth has said he won’t be contesting the general elections.
BJP leaders believe that despite the anti-incumbency against the AIADMK government, the coalition could be a formidable electoral force, especially after the “popular Budget” presented by the E Palaniswami government recently.
Goyal finalised the seat-sharing formula at a late-night meeting with AIADMK leaders Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam (the Deputy Chief Minister) last week, a party leader said. The AIADMK leaders gave the BJP the responsibility of bringing the PMK into the alliance, the leader added. From the NDA kitty, the PMK and DMDK are likely to get three seats each.
In Tamil Nadu, the BJP leaders say, they are banking on “Modi’s popularity” in the state as well as the “support base” developed by it over the years in districts such as Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Sivaganga and Tirupur. Recently, the BJP’s top leaders have been making a beeline for the state. Party president Amit Shah and Union ministers Nitin Gadkari, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Smriti Irani, among others, have come calling.
Having failed to make significant electoral gains in the southern states barring Karnataka, the BJP needs alliances to pull votes in the region in an effort to return to power at the Centre. While it is working on pre-election alliances in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the party will go for post-poll alignments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, a BJP leader familiar with the developments said. “The BJP counts both the TRS in Telangana and the YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh as friendly parties. But there is not much scope for pre-poll alliances with them,” the leader said.
The BJP is hoping to complete its pre-poll alliances before the first week of March. After Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, the party is keen to finalise deals with its existing partners in Uttar Pradesh: the Apna Dal and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party. The party has already finalised seat-sharing formula with the JD(U) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party in Bihar.
On Monday, B L Santhosh, the BJP’s national joint secretary (organisation), tweeted, “Political developments are coming thick & fast. Next few days including today will change all arithmetic & surveys. Many would be Ghathabandhanas will become irrelevant….”