Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK on Tuesday sealed an alliance with BJP and PMK, which has considerable influence in the northern part of the state that constitutes for 17 seats, for the Lok Sabha polls due in May. While the BJP will contest five seats, the PMK has been allotted 7 seats and a Rajya Sabha berth.
The AIADMK also enlisted the support of the PMK and BJP for the by-polls to 21 assembly constituencies – an election that has the potential to send packing the party-led government. The announcement of AIADMK’s alliance with PMK and BJP were made public separately by AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
Though the alliance was to be announced by Amit Shah, he was forced to cancel his visit since the PMK played the hardball till the eleventh hour. Apart from PMK and BJP, the alliance will have DMDK, TMC, IJK and Puthiya Needhi Katchi as well as junior partners.
The AIADMK-PMK pact was signed between PMK founder S Ramadoss and AIADMK coordinator and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, while Railway Minister and BJP in-charge for Tamil Nadu, Piyush Goyal, signed on behalf of the saffron party.
“I am extremely delighted that today AIADMK and BJP have concluded very fruitful discussion. The alliance at the state level will be led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the national level,” Goyal told reporters after the discussions.
He also said the alliance would aim to win all 40 seats, including the lone Puducherry seat, and invoked late J Jayalalithaa. On its part, the PMK, which has been quite critical of the AIADMK, justified its alliance saying it has put forth ten conditions for the tie-up.
“The AIADMK and PMK have decided to fight the Lok Sabha elections together as part of a mega alliance which will be victorious in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. As part of the pact, the PMK will contest 7 Lok Sabha seats. Also, the PMK will get one Rajya Sabha seat,” Panneerselvam said.
On his part, PMK founder S Ramadoss said the parties decided to enter into an alliance for the welfare of the people. The release of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, exemption for NEET, disallowing Karnataka from constructing a reservoir at Mekedatu and staggered prohibition are some of the major demands of the PMK.
The AIADMK, which is the leader of the alliance, has been holding talks with PMK and they are still inconclusive with Ramadoss not budging from his stand.
The deal was thrashed out after Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam met Ramadoss and his son Anbumani on Tuesday. PMK has done a volte-face in joining the AIADMK alliance as it had vowed not to have any truck with the Dravidian parties in the state.
The party, which was part of the NDA-1 and UPA-1 governments, has five per cent vote share and wields considerable influence among Vanniyars.
AIADMK and BJP have been holding informal talks since December for an alliance, but so far only one round of formal discussion has taken place – both EPS and OPS had met Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal at a “common place” on Thursday last.
The alliance will be a formidable one and is expected to give the DMK alliance run for its money. It is also a deviation for the AIADMK from the long-held policy of its late chief J Jayalalithaa who had maintained equidistance from both the national parties – BJP and Congress.
However, the AIADMK, even under Jayalalithaa, had been bailing out the BJP in Parliament. The last time the two parties contested elections together was during 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
DH had on February 5 reported that despite stiff opposition from within, AIADMK is firm on an alliance with the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections.
BJP leaders feel an alliance with AIADMK would ensure that it gets the chunk of the regional party’s vote share if not the entire percentage. AIADMK under Jayalalithaa had polled more than 40 per cent of votes in 2016 assembly elections, but it might witness a deep plunge with AIADMK split into two after her passing away.