- As expected, Tamil Nadu's CM met PM Modi in Delhi, to extend support for the Presidential elections
- With the support of both factions of the AIADMK, the BJP seems to have the numbers it needs to win the poll
- However, insiders noted many signs that show all is not well within the Sasikala AIADMK faction. Another split on the cards?
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy on Wednesday assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi the support of the Sasikala faction of the AIADMK to the BJP Presidential candidate.
Jayalalitha, in her lifetime, and over the past three Presidential elections, had extended support to BJP candidates. Palanisamy assured the PM that this traditional support at the national level would continue for the BJP.
Palanisamy's assurance is a shot in the arm for the PM. With this support, the BJP has now crossed the 50 per cent mark. The BJP's support is estimated to be at 54 per cent with Palanisamy's support. A week before, the O Pannerselvam faction of the AIADMK also assured its support to the PM.
PM keen to see that the two warring factions merge:
With these two factions assuring their support, in a natural corollary, the BJP would like to see the two factions - Puratchi Thalaivi Amma and Amma - merge and retain the two leaves symbol of the AIADMK.
A highly placed political source confirmed to Asianet Newsable that the BJP is not in favour of political instability in Tamil Nadu. The Centre also does not want snap polls in Tamil Nadu, as there is a complete vacuum after Jayalalithaa's demise.
The BJP leadership, including PM Modi and Amit Shah, feel that a merged AIADMK should rule Tamil Nadu for the remaining four years of the mandate. Tamil Nadu is scheduled to go to the polls in 2021.
How much support is too much?
Interestingly, the Sasikala AIADMK faction has gone very much out of its way to indicate the sheer depth of its support the BJP. State Minister SP Velumani met Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister D Jayakumar met Minister Venkaiah Naidu and AIADMK's leader in the Lok Sabha VP Venugopal met Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. All of these meetings were over the support to the BJP's Presidental candidate.
The question does arise why have there been so many meetings?
One possible reason could be the upsurge in CBI, IT cases against Palanisamy's ministers and government officials. The negative media publicity due to the raids has demoralised the faction's cadre. Are these meetings are a way to avoid further CBI, IT raids?
Of course, the demands of Tamil Nadu - like drought relief, NEET exam solutions, Sri Lankan-Tamil issue and Tamil fishermen issues were brought to the notice of the Prime Minister.
Is the AIADMK splitting further?
PMO officials were keen to know who Manickam before the meeting took place, as he was listed as the interpreter during the PM-CM meeting. Manickam is a relative of CM Palanisamy. None of Palanisamy's ministers was taken inside during the meeting.
So why did Palanisamy not take Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, M Thambidurai, as an interpreter? In fact, Thambidurai stayed back in Chennai and was even present in Delhi. Is there a split in the Palanisamy camp? Speculation along this line is now ripe within the AIADMK.
Another point that insiders noted was that Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan was also kept outside the meeting. Politically, does this mean that Palanisamy wants to establish a personal hot line with the PM?
Whichever way one looks at the developments in Tamil Nadu, it is interesting that the BJP is the beneficiary of a huge number of MLAs and MPs votes for their Presidential candidate, all thanks to tacit, and possibly secret, understandings.
R Rajagopalan is a senior journalist and analyst. The views expressed here are his own.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:51 PM