AIADMK-BJP alliance to be sealed soon

Last Updated 08 February 2019, 10:41 IST

Despite stiff opposition from within, Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK is firm on an alliance with the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections due in May and a formal announcement on the tie-up could be made very soon.

Highly-placed sources in the AIADMK and the BJP confirmed to DH that the informal talks on seat-sharing and other modalities have come to the final stage.

Though the BJP wants the alliance to be announced or at least send indications on a tie-up being stitched up before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mega rally in the knitwear town of Tiruppur on February 10. The BJP feels announcing the alliance before the public meeting would galvanise the party cadre in the influential Kongu region, an AIADMK citadel that is yet to be breached by the DMK.

However, the AIADMK does not want to rush into announcing the alliance due to vehement opposition from its party cadre and second-rung leadership. Already, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai and former minister C Ponnaiyan have red-flagged the move saying cadre would not accept any alliance with the BJP.

“We don’t have many options. The party leadership feels it should have a national party alongside while facing the Lok Sabha polls. With the Congress already in the DMK fold, we just have the BJP. Though there is resentment among the cadre (for an alliance with BJP), we are hopeful of resolving them and sealing the deal,” a senior minister, who is part of the core team, told DH.

The alliance talks are being held at the top-level, sources said, adding that the TN BJP unit has been kept at a distance during the negotiations, a top BJP leader said. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who hails from Tamil Nadu, is among those who are negotiating with the AIADMK team consisting of senior ministers P Thangamani and S P Velumani.

“How can we tell the exact date? Talks are on and we are at the negotiating table. Things would be clear very soon,” another leader aware of the development said.

Sources said the AIADMK has conveyed to the BJP leadership that it wants to contest in 23 or 24 seats and is willing to part with the rest — 17 or 16 seats — for the allies. Tamil Nadu has 39 seats and Puducherry one. The AIADMK and BJP are also trying to rope in the PMK, DMDK and Tamil Maanila Congress – a breakaway faction of the Congress headed by former Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan.

While the BJP might contest seven to eight seats, it hopes to share the remaining with the other three parties, which are inclined to join the alliance. The BJP is hoping to build a formidable alliance against the DMK-Congress combine and is willing to even reduce its share to accommodate others, another leader said.

BJP leaders feel an alliance with the 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.

(Published 04 February 2019, 17:58 IST)

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