AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa will support Jaswant Singh in Tuesday's election for Vice President.
Mr Singh is the opposition NDA's candidate and while he is not expected to win against the ruling UPA's Hamid Ansari, Ms Jayalalithaa's move will be seen for its larger political message - an affirmation of a growing closeness to the BJP, which has been assiduously wooing her with an eye on an alliance in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Mr Singh was in Chennai today to seek the support of the Tamil Nadu CM; she promised him that support, out of personal regard, she said. "I have known Jaswant for 28 years. It's a mark of my personal regard," she said.
Ms Jayalalithaa and the BJP-led NDA had also voted on the same side for last month's presidential elections. They voted for Purno Sangma who lost soundly to Pranab Mukherjee, the UPA's candidate, who is now the 13th President of India.
However, the other regional party that voted for Mr Sangma, Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal, will not align with Ms Jayalalithaa for this election. It announced on Sunday that it would abstain from voting. "After consultation with parliament members and senior leaders, the party has decided to abstain from voting in the vice-presidential elections," Mr Patnaik, who is Odisha chief Minister, said in Bhubaneswar.
The vice presidential election will be held on Tuesday, August 7. All UPA allies are on board to support a second term for Mr Ansari and parties like the Samajwadi Party and the BSP too have pledged support for him. Members of both Houses of Parliament (Lok Sabha 545 and Rajya Sabha 245) form the Electoral College and Mr Ansari is expected to win comfortably.
For the BJP, however, fielding a candidate even in the face of sure defeat was important to underscore the message it also sent out during Presidential election - that it will not vote on same side as the UPA.
The BJD has 21 MPs, 14 in Lok Sabha and seven in Rajya Sabha. The AIADMK has nine MPs in the Lok Sabha and five in the Rajya Sabha.