Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Friday, 24 March, at a time the party’s relations with the AIADMK seems to have hit a rough patch.
The 30-minute meeting gained significance as it came against the backdrop of Annamalai’s recent utterances about the alliance, and the possibility of the BJP going alone in the state.
Sources told South First that during the meeting at Shah’s residence on Krishna Menon Marg, the senior leader asked the former IPS officer to explain his controversial speeches and the BJP’s intra-party squabbles in the state.
Incidentally, during a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 March, Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) president GK Vasan is believed to have explained the political scenario in Tamil Nadu and the issues between the state BJP and AIADMK leaders.
BJP sources said the party’s national president, JP Nadda, and Shah have been insisting on having a cordial relationship with alliance partner AIADMK to avoid sullying the party’s image in public.
It is learned that the BJP national leadership advised Annamalai to go soft on the AIADMK high command. After a power struggle between O Panneerselvam and Edappadi Palaniswamy, AIADMK is now firmly under the control of the latter.
Annamalai, who was summoned to Delhi on Thursday, returned to Tamil Nadu on Friday.
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All is well: Annamalai
Annamalai, who has a not-so-cordial relationship with the media, took the lead to meet reporters in Madurai on his return from New Delhi. He said there was nothing unusual about his visit to the national capital.
“I have been meeting BJP leaders JP Nadda, Amit Shah, and (the party national general secretary) BL Santhosh frequently. Last month, I met Shah three times in Delhi,” he said, adding that the meetings were on Karnataka elections and “other issues”.
“Right from the party high command, including Prime Minister Modi, to the last line of functionaries, everyone is committed to winning the love of the people of Tamil Nadu and the growth of the BJP in the state,” he said.
He noted that Tamil Nadu politics has been changing. “The DMK has completed 22 months in power. During this time, several changes happened, including the Erode East by-election. I have informed the leadership about these changes,” he said.
Annamalai further said that he discussed the alliance in Tamil Nadu. “We have a Parliamentary Board to take a call on the alliance based on the feedback we provide.”
Related: More BJP leaders quit Tamil Nadu unit to join AIADMK
No confusion about alliance
Terming AIADMK a big party that has been in power on and off since 1972, Annamalai said there is nothing wrong in the BJP wishing for rapid growth in the state, since AIADMK, too, has been doing the same.
“There is no confusion over the alliance in the state. The Parliamentary Board comprising Prime Minister Modi and other senior leaders is watching and they are taking the alliance forward after considering all angles,” he said.
“Neither I nor the party holds any grudge against any individual leader or leaders of any other specific party,” the Tamil Nadu BJP chief added.
Annamalai said minor tussles between the alliance partners were only natural.
“The people will decide on the party to support at the opportune moment. We share certain principles and ideologies at the national level and hence we are together.”
Related: When Annamalai spoke against alliance with AIADMK
Annamalai supporters sparked trouble: AIADMK MLA
A senior AIADMK leader and sitting MLA said Edappadiyar (Palaniswami) had informed the BJP’s national leadership in New Delhi that the saffron party’s state unit, especially those close to Annamalai, had sparked the recent tensions between the two parties with their comments on social media.
“Issues started only after inducting CTR Nirmal Kumar into the party. Further, the speeches of the BJP leaders were drafted and sent to the BJP high command. Even GK Vasan insisted on the same when he met Modi,” the MLA told South First.
Nirmal Kumar was the BJP’s Tamil Nadu IT Cell chief. He resigned from the BJP on 5 March to join the AIADMK.
Analysts believe that, in the current political situation, both the AIADMK and the BJP need each other, and burying the hatchet, as advised by the saffron party’s high command was the best bet for the alliance.
“The only opposition to DMK has been AIADMK for the past 40 years. But now the AIADMK is weak. Only a collective opposition could take on the DMK,” senior journalist K Dhanraj told South First.
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However, the journalist opined that BJP would not keep quiet for long, and it would take advantage of its closeness to the TMC.
“Palaniswami considers the BJP a burden and he wants to create a narrative that the party (AIADMK) is against core Hindutva ideologies. So the issues between the two parties will continue,” Dhanraj said.
Political analyst Ravintharan Duraisamy pointed to a trust deficit between the alliance partners.
Speaking to South First, he said the BJP’s national leadership suspects that Palaniswami might leave the alliance at the last minute to win minority votes and Annamalai is reflecting that lack of trust through his speeches.
“There won’t be any issues in the BJP-AIADMK tie-up for the next few months. But if Palaniswami opposes the BJP’s move to unify AIADMK by bringing back O Panneerselvam, TTV Dhinakaran, and VK Sasikala, Annamalai will get more aggressive,” Duraisamy opined.
“He will take on the AIADMK by leaving the alliance and forming a new front without Palaniswami,” he added.