Chennai: On a visit that is being seen to hint at the AIADMK cosying up to the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Chennai today to launch the state government's scheme for a Rs 25,000 subsidy for women to buy two wheelers.
- PM Modi will travel to Chennai to launch AIADMK scheme
- Move seen as latest in series that portray AIADMK closer to BJP
- Panneerselvam had said PM's nudge led to merger of warring AIADMK camps
The launch of the scheme - Amma Two-wheeler Scheme - has been timed to coincide with the birth anniversary of AIADMK matriarch J Jayalalithaa who had first promised the 50 per cent subsidy scheme in the run-up to the 2016 assembly elections.
PM Modi's visit comes days after Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam confirmed speculation that the BJP's top leadership, particularly PM Modi, had a role to play in the merger of the AIADMK's two factions; one led by him and another by Chief Minister E Palaniswami.
Mr Panneerselvam, or OPS as he is called, last week told his supporters that it was the nudge from PM Modi that led him to agree to the merged of the two factions created after J Jayalalithaa's death in December 2016.
"He (PM Modi) said that you (Panneerselvam) could join (merge the faction) to save the party and under the present circumstances, the two [factions] should merge to save the party," Mr Panneerselvam had said.
The PM had met with the leaders of both factions ahead of the merger, telegraphing the BJP's desire to end divisions within the regional party it believes can help it gain some ground in Tamil Nadu and also in the Rajya Sabha, where it is in a minority.
But Mr Panneerselvam had let his inclination to ally with the BJP be known in a tweet in May 2017 when he just had a handful of party leaders supporting him. "We will take a decision on alliance with BJP once local body elections are announced," Mr Panneerselvam had tweeted. He, however, had to delete the tweet after it kicked up a storm.
Jayalalithaa had stayed out of the NDA when PM Modi rode to power on a wave back in 2014 but the two leaders were known to have shared a warm relationship, one that helped AIADMK lawmaker M Thambidurai become Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker.
AIADMK spokesperson C Ponnaiyan denied criticism that the ruling AIADMK has surrendered to the ruling BJP at the centre to escape from corruption allegations. He told NDTV, "We need friendly ties with the centre and even our Amma had she been alive would have felt happy."