Signs of growing unease in the AIADMK for any alliance with the BJP was evident on Wednesday after party spokesperson, C Ponnaiyan, told NDTV that the cadre "does not want any alliance with the BJP."
"They (AIADMK workers) are angry that BJP did not take care of Tamil Nadu's interest. The party's executive will take a final decision soon," said Mr Ponnaiyan. On what made the cadre angry with the BJP, he explained that the BJP government "took a pro Karnataka stand" in the Cauvery issue. "It imposed Hindi, imposed National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or NEET, they did not release those convicted in Rajiv gandhi assassination case, nor did they release adequate funds for cyclone-affected areas," he added.
Taking advantage of the weak leadership in the AIADMK, ever since former chief minister J Jayalalithaa died in 2016, the BJP, many say was hoping for a tie-up with the AIADMK to expand its footprint in the state. The series of income tax and CBI raids on the Health Minister, Chief Secretary and the police chief meant that the ruling AIADMK literally surrendered itself to the BJP, which often the ruling dispensation had termed as "friendly ties for the welfare of Tamil Nadu".
But AIADMK's tone towards the BJP has been changing over the last few weeks. Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and senior AIADMK leader M Thambidurai recently said, "The BJP had not done anything to Tamil Nadu. We will align only with a party that is good for the state".
Though the party had constituted committees for manifesto preparation and seat sharing, the party has also called for applications from aspiring candidates, virtually shutting down alliance prospects or hinting not much is available to be shared.
"Only a few AIADMK leaders are opposed to an alliance with the BJP. E Panaliswami and O Pannerselvam are the decision makers," state BJP spokesperson, Narayanan Thirupathy told NDTV. Responding to allegations on the centre being favourable to Karnataka over the Cauvery issue and the medical entrance exams, Mr Thirupathy said, "It was the BJP that constituted Cauvery River Authority and the centre has already exempted Tamil Nadu from NEET for a year." He is hopeful that the alliance "should happen as the ties are cordial."
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls the AIADMK had won 37 of the 39 seats in the state. However, now the party is divided and the other faction under ousted leaders, Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran, have launched AMMK. TTV Dhinakaran had even won Jayalalithaa's RK Nagar constituency in the by-election.
The BJP, however, is unperturbed and is hopeful of tie-up with the AIADMK.
The party's spokesperson Narayanan Thirupathy told NDTV: "Only a few AIADMK leaders oppose the alliance. EPS and OPS are the decision makers."
Saying the ties between AIADMK and BJP are "cordial", he said "I'm confident the alliance should happen."
The spokesperson also denied the allegations against BJP and said: "It was the BJP that constituted Cauvery Management Authority. When Jayalalitha asked to exempt the state from NEET for a year, it was the centre that got the nod from the Supreme Court."
However, it's not clear yet whether the AIADMK high command would echo the sentiments of its cadre or decide to go the other way.
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