By Sushil Kutty
The Bharatiya Janata Party in Tamil Nadu has renewed its vows with the principal opposition party in the state, the AIADMK, with certain concessions from both sides. One, the BJP’s K Annamalai will put his ego on hold and for that, the AIADMK will consider Annamalai an equal partner and not a maverick like he was taken till yesterday.
Annamalai will look Edappadi K Palaniswami in the eye and EPS better not flinch. Media reports are using the words “sealed their alliance” and linking it with the 2024 general elections. So, the hatchet stays buried till the two sides disagree to agree. Whispers after the vows were renewed say ties between BJP and AIADMK soured primarily because K Annamalai was not a man to handle with kid gloves!
It appears like BJP President JP Nadda and former BJP President Amit Shah managed to convince Annamalai that one can only play with the hand dealt which also applied equally to AIADMK general-secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami. Besides, both have to shake hands if they want to be at the high-stakes races come 2024, which is the stated reason why the two parties will have to tolerate each other for the duration.
The BJP-AIADMK alliance isn’t new. It’s been a ticking time-bomb for months as Annamalai decided he will not suffer Dravidian fools. Even otherwise, Tamil Nadu’s political culture did not suit Annamalai’s staccato political style till you noticed there was a method to Annamalai’s seeming political one-upmanship. The BJP top brass had seen the potential in him even before he dumped IPS to take on a political beat.
The going talk was that K Annamalai is the next thing in Tamil Nadu politics. The buzz around him pointed to winds of change. Such that not just the AIADMK, but also the ruling DMK has been fretting at the bits to have a go at the maverick before he broke free and did harm to both Dravidian parties. Just recently, Annamalai had targeted Chief Minister MK Stalin with a compilation of Stalin negatives what he called the ‘DMK Files’.
The AIADMK-BJP alliance was renewed and resealed at a meeting in Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s Delhi residence. Edappadi K Palaniswami, J P Nadda and Annamalai were present. Annamalai got to sit bang opposite Edappadi, which was not accidental placing though the BJP’s state unit chief wasn’t happy that the BJP would fight elections 2024 tied to AIADMK’s apron-strings.
K Annamalai’s ambition was to lead the BJP into battle solo. For the BJP spearhead, both the DMK and the AIADMK are two sides of the same coin. Both represent Dravidian interests and there is nothing that differentiates one from the other when it comes to ideology and politics. Just a few days ago, Annamalai had threatened he would quit his party post if the BJP went ahead and tied up with the AIADMK.
But the mercurial BJP state unit Chief happens to be yet another victim of Modi-Shah’s concentration of power. The two Gujarati gentlemen can irritate even the most reasonable party leader and cadre if given half a chance. There’s still a year left for 2024 general elections and 12 months is enough time in politics to spring surprises. Don’t be startled if Edappadi and Annamalai are not at each other’s throats sooner rather than later.
There’s too much that separates BJP and AIADMK. If BJP has ‘cadre”, the AIADMK has “fans”; and this is how it has been from the time of MGR and later when J Jayalalithaa took charge. There will be daily skirmishes between the cadres and the fans. The only reason the alliance has been renewed and sealed is because the AIADMK has weakened since Jayalalithaa’s passing and the DMK has acquired strength, power.
The explanation that the BJP and AIADMK leaders decided to continue the alliance out of “mutual respect” is so ridiculous that even politically-savvy teenagers would hold their sides in laughter. Whichever alliance ever went to polls with “mutual respect” and won? To defeat a DMK-Congress alliance with “mutual respect” is talk straight out of a juvenile board.
But that is what the AIADMK-BJP combine says of its alliance, mutual respect! Tamil Nadu sends 39 MPs to the Lok Sabha and take this bet, mutual respect will not be the reason for who wins and who loses! The two parties have said the alliance would ensure no division in opposition votes. But what’s the guarantee a quarter or even half the AIADMK’s Dravidian vote-bank has no such love lost for “communal BJP”? What we are witnessing is Amit Shah’s Chanakya-niti and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Operation 400+” at play for 2024. (IPA Service)