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Churning in AIADMK gives DMK leverage, opens up new vistas for BJP

Although a huge chunk of party workers and office-bearers are apparently with the dominant leader EPS, ousted figurehead OPS does have some clout
Last Updated : 11 July 2022, 17:12 IST
Last Updated : 11 July 2022, 17:12 IST

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The ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu stands to electorally gain to a significant extent and the BJP, though now on the fringes, could aspire to get more electoral space in the wake of churning in the AIADMK. Although a huge chunk of party workers and office-bearers are apparently with the dominant leader Edappadi K Palaniswami, ousted figurehead O Panneerselvam does have a clout among sections of party workers in select regions of Tamil Nadu.

At the same time V K Sasikala, confidante of late party matriarch J Jayalalithaa is staking claim to the late leader's legacy. Dramatically, she declared that both Panneerselvam and Palaniswami were mere 'shadows' while she is the 'truth', meaning she is the real leader. Her remark comes following the expulsion of Panneerselvam and the violence witnessed in the AIADMK headquarters.

Narrating an anecdote to her supporters in Pudukottai District, she in a veiled manner hit out at both of them and said party workers rallied only behind her. Apparently, Sasikala has underscored that she continues to be in the race to wrest the party's leadership. She asserted that she would unify and steer the AIADMK towards victory. Along with Sasikala, her nephew TTV Dhinakaran who heads a separate outfit is also in the race for pro-AIADMK and anti-DMK votes. This leaves the field open to as many as 4 players including the dominant leader Palaniswami to fight for the legacy AIADMK votes.

Dhinakaran's Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam played spoilsport for the AIADMK in a number of constituencies in the Assembly election held last year. Durai Karuna, political commentator and a chronicler of the AIADMK for several decades told PTI that a divided AIADMK would only work in favour of the DMK electorally to a significant extent.

The AIADMK's votebanks comprise 'Dravidian and MGR-Amma votes', which is pro-Dravidian ideology but opposed to the DMK and its leadership. AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran is fondly called as MGR. Karuna said the DMK which has already emerged very strong, captured power in the state after a decade and has the support of several allies including the Congress and Left parties.

In all the polls since 2019 including Lok Sabha and local polls, the DMK and allies have won solidly. He said the BJP, which has an alliance with the AIADMK has set its sights on winning an impressive number of Parliamentary seats in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. A weakened AIADMK would not be of help to the saffron party and a united AIADMK is also in the interests of the ruling party at the Centre, he added.

Asked on his party's stand, BJP state unit vice-president Narayanan Tirupati told PTI: "This is an internal issue of the AIADMK. We have absolutely nothing to comment on it." Answering a question, he said, "comments on electoral alliances can be made only during the times of election."

Political commentator M Bharat Kumar said a divided AIADMK brought back DMK to power in 1989 after a gap of 13 years. Now, the DMK is already in power and a split in the AIADMK would mean more consolidation of electoral space for the ruling party. "There are no elections until 2024. So, there are no immediate losers or gainers as electoral battle is far away. However, in the perception battle, bickering and fragmentation in the AIADMK would to a considerable extent favour the BJP and help the party garner more and more anti-DMK votes," he told PTI.

It is a fact that the BJP under the leadership of K Annamalai is 'hitting the ground' on people centric issues countering the DMK government's narrative on several issues. The BJP thus is working to win over even pro-DMK voters.

"Don't forget that the BJP is today taking up issues it has not championed in the past. Annamalai has demanded that the DMK government include the life history of Dalit icon Rettamalai Srinivasan in school textbooks. So being proactive will for sure work in BJP's favour to a reasonable extent." Wheareas the AIADMK is witnessing multiple fights to seize party's control and Sasikala has also filed petitions in the court over the leadership issue.

"The battlelines are now clearly drawn. It will be mainly OPS versus EPS in the court of law from now onwards. Sasikala is throwing her hat in the ring in a desperate bid to prove her presence." Today's general council was a show of strength by the dominant Palaniswami camp, Kumar said.

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Published 11 July 2022, 13:41 IST

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