What EPS-Amit Shah meet says about AIADMK-BJP ties in Tamil Nadu

The meeting with Amit Shah assumes significance as it comes amid the battle between EPS and OPS to stake claim to the AIADMK.

ByUmar Sharieef

Published Sep 21, 2022 | 7:39 PMUpdatedSep 21, 2022 | 7:39 PM

EPS meets Amit Shah

Armed with a bright green silk shawl and a bouquet of pink roses, interim general secretary of the AIADMK Edappadi K Palaniswami met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday. Both leaders smiled for photos before sitting down for a meeting that lasted more than 20 minutes.

This is the first time since the O Panneerselvam (OPS)-Palaniswami (EPS) split in the AIADMK that the latter has met any senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an ally of the former in Tamil Nadu.

EPS was accompanied by former minister SP Velumani and Member of Parliament C V Shanmugam. During their two-day visit to New Delhi, the leaders are also hoping to make their case before the Election Commission of India about their faction being the original AIADMK.

‘Apolitical’ meet between EPS & Amit Shah

Speaking to the media right after his meeting with Shah, EPS insisted that it was an “apolitical” meeting.

“This was only a courtesy call. I raised concerns over the deteriorating state of law and order in Tamil Nadu with murders, robberies, and dacoities on the rise coupled with the rampant sale of illegal drugs,” Palaniswami told reporters. He added that he requested the Union home minister to implement two major water-related schemes — the Godavari-Cauvery link scheme and Nadanthai Vaazhi Cauvery project.

What EPS did not acknowledge publicly is how the meeting has changed the status quo between the BJP and AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. Ever since the wide-open split in the AIADMK following the ouster of OPS by EPS in July, the BJP has maintained its distance from both factions. Tuesday’s meeting between Shah and EPS is the first indication of which way the BJP is leaning when it comes to the two factions of the AIADMK.

The meeting between EPS and Shah also comes at a time when his close aides are under the radar of various agencies. Tamil Nadu’s DVAC is conducting raids on former ministers, including Velumani, who went along with EPS to meet Shah. The Karnataka Lokayukta on Friday named Chandrakanth Ramalingam, a close aide of EPS, as one of the accused in an alleged corruption case that involves former Karnataka chief minister and BJP leader BS Yediyurappa.

The EPS group of the party hopes that his interaction with Shah is seen as an acknowledgement by the BJP that his faction is the real AIADMK. The efforts of EPS to cosy up to the BJP come at a time OPS has been consolidating support and is looking to work in tandem with VK Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran.

‘Not seeking BJP support’

While Palaniswami sought Amit Shah’s appointment and met him, leaders of the AIADMK insisted that it was not a move to seek the BJP’s approval.

The leadership battle is an internal issue of AIADMK and others don’t have any authority to comment on it, Kovai Sathyan, spokesperson of the AIADMK, told South First.

Reiterating that EPS discussed the law-and-order situation in Tamil Nadu, Sathyan denied that EPS was meeting Shah to seek any help over the leadership tussle in the AIADMK.

“EPS has emerged as our strong leader, and he holds the support of the majority of the people. There is no threat of splitting of votes,” he insisted. “Nobody can dictate to us. EPS has support inside the party and among the supporters. And nobody, including anyone from Delhi, can ask us to join hands with OPS,” Sathyan added.