BJP-AIADMK alliance on the rocks? Defections strain ties as statements devolve into war of words

AIADMK leaders targeted Tamil Nadu BJP chief Annamalai, even as the BJP seemed sore about its leaders quitting to join an alliance partner.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Mar 07, 2023 | 10:16 PM Updated Mar 07, 2023 | 10:17 PM

AIADMK cadres protest against the BJP across Tamil Nadu. (Supplied)

Days after Tamil Nadu BJP IT Wing president CTR Nirmal Kumar left the party and joined the AIADMK, all the while levelling several accusations against the saffron party’s state president Annamalai, the BJP functionaries took on the AIADMK high command through Twitter, criticising the head of the allies.

Meanwhile, four more high-profile BJP functionaries — including BJP’s OBC Wing state secretary Jothi, IT Wing secretary Dilip, former state secretary Krishnan, and Tiruchy Rural district vice-president Vijay joined the AIADMK on Tuesday, 7 March, in the presence of the party’s interim general secretary Edappadi Palaniswami.

This seemed to add fuel to the already raging fire that was the war of words between the two parties.

Verbal volleys 

Tamil Nadu BJP Sports and Skill Development Cell president Amar Prasad Reddy, a close associate of Annamalai, added fuel to the fire when he said on Twitter that the AIADMK, being an alliance partner, should not have done this and the BJP, under the leadership of Annamalai, would form the next government in Tamil Nadu.

In a series of tweets, Reddy also said: “Kongu voters showed the exit to those that considered the region their own fort. Losing with a difference of 66000 is not even a sign of breathing, forget holding fort. [sic]”

BJP district secretaries and functionaries also started tweeting against the AIADMK high command.

TN BJP general secretary Karuppu Muruganatham stated that if the AIADMK thought that it would become stronger by inducting a functionary from the BJP and “stain the reputation of our leader Annamalai”, it not would be fair. He also asked, what if the BJP did the same?

In response to the allegations, Babu Murugavel, Joint Secretary of AIADMK’s Legal Wing and its spokesperson, took on Annamalai directly, saying he came to politics only four years ago and had been a leader only for one and a half years.

He also said: “EPS has been in politics since 1989, and had seen seven general elections, 10 years of ministership, and was chief minister for four and a half years. Hence, we know what to do.”

Janani Sathishkumar, the IT Wing secretary of the Vellore zone for the AIADMK, tagging Annamalai, asked whether the statements of Amar Prasad were being issued only on the approval of Annamalai.

Also read: Annamalai’s Rafale watch triggers debate over corruption

‘Every action has opposite and equal reaction’

Meanwhile, Annamalai, who was on his way from Bengaluru to Theni on Tuesday to meet deposed AIADMK leader O Paneerselvam, told reporters at the Madurai airport: “People are saying that the AIADMK is trying to show itself as a big party by inducting BJP functionaries.”

He added: “Every action will have an opposite and equal reaction, as per Newton’s law.”

Annamalai also said that the BJP nourished the functionaries with Hindutva ideologies while they were in the party, and asked if those who exited the party were going to raise “hail” slogans for the leader of the new party.

Asked about the allegations levelled against him by Nirmal Kumar, Annamalai said that he made all his decisions in the best interests of the party.

“Like Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, I am a leader. I haven’t come here to prepare dosa and idli. I do whatever is good for the party. Functionaries who do not wish to continue in the BJP shall leave the party. In the coming days, my politics will be more aggressive,” he said.

“Now we are in third gear. We will be in top gear as the election nears, and will form the government in 2026,” Annamalai said.

Also read: Gayathri Raguramm warns women as she quits Tamil Nadu BJP

Anyone can join any party: AIADMK

A source close to Edappadi Palaniswami told South First that the AIADMK had not invited Nirmal Kumar to the party.

“It was he who wished to join the party. It is normal for anyone to join the party they wish to, and Palaniswami agreed to induct him into the party,” he said.

He also asked: “Nainar Nagendran, who was in the AIADMK, joined the BJP. Sasikala Pushpa, a former AIADMK MP, is in the BJP. Have we ever questioned the BJP over this?”

A source in BJP told South First that normally if a functionary wants to join any party, there would be several rounds of talks.

“But in Nirmal Kumar’s case, he issued a statement blaming the state leader, met Palaniswami within a few minutes, and joined the party. Also EPS, for sure, knew the contents of the statement issued,” he said.

“When a functionary levels severe allegations against a party leader, how can another leader, that too one who heads the coalition, welcome the respective BJP person into their party?” he asked.

Asked whether the issue would affect the BJP-AIADMK ties, the source close to Annamalai said that it was in the hands of Palaniswami.

Also read: In Annamalai, BJP sees a Tamil film hero for Hindutva project

BJP burns Palaniswami effigy

Meanwhile, nearly 50 AIADMK cadre joined the BJP in the presence of Annamalai at Madurai airport.

In Kovilpatti, a few BJP functionaries burnt the effigy of Edappadi Palaniswami. The police subsequently arrested them.

AIADMK leader Semmalai condemned the BJP for burning the effigy of Palaniswami. He said that the AIADMK opposed several policies of the BJP.

Meanwhile, AIADMK cadres protested in various towns of Tamil Nadu against the BJP.