Is AIADMK merely posturing?

Is AIADMK merely posturing?

The ruling AIADMK’s stiff message to the BJP may have been made to remove the growing doubts about who controls the alliance between the two parties in Tamil Nadu. It has much to do with the image that the AIADMK wants to project about itself, going into Assembly election next year, and perhaps with the uncertainty that may arise after the release of Jayalalithaa’s friend, V K Sasikala, from jail next month. The forthcoming Assembly election is the first since Jayalalithaa’s death. It was routed in the Lok Sabha elections and just managed to survive in power after the 22 by-elections in the state last year. The party cannot go into elections except as a ruling party sure of itself and as the master of the alliance, it is in. That is why it has said that it does not need a national party as an ally if it is going to be dictated to and that the ally, the BJP, should endorse the candidature of Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami for chief ministership after the elections.

Palaniswami has consolidated his position as the leader of the government and the party and would not want to give the impression that there is any doubt about it. The alliance with the BJP for the next election, which was announced last month during the visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, had surprised some leaders and was considered a result of pressure from the ruling party at the Centre. Though the AIADMK has had an alliance with the BJP and a precariously positioned Palaniswami government was supported by the BJP, it does not help a Dravidian party to be seen as being close to the BJP. That is why the AIADMK also emphasised the Dravidian political tradition in the state and said that no national party can make a dent there. The AIADMK had also distanced itself from the BJP on some issues in recent months for the same reason.

The AIADMK may also have made these assertions in view of the apparently strong and stable position of the rival DMK-led alliance that includes Congress and some other parties, and the ripples likely to be caused by Sasikala. The statement was made before Rajinikanth announced that he was not joining politics, but that possibility also may have been reckoned with. So, the seemingly tough talk to the BJP may be more political posturing, which may also contain the message that it need not expect too many seats to be given to it. But the close relationship between the two parties is bound to continue. It is to be noted that neither Palaniswami nor Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam has made any comment on the alliance.