Bengaluru: The AIADMK-BJP alliance is tottering in Tamil Nadu after a spate of taunts aimed at each other, friction over seat-sharing and continued attempts at political one-upmanship between the two parties.
The AIADMK is fuming at what it sees as repeated attempts by the BJP to undermine and dictate terms to it. Party spokesperson Kovai Sathyan told ThePrint that the BJP was operating outside the “Lakshman rekha (boundaries)” of the alliance.
“We would like to tell our alliance partners that there is a ‘Lakshman rekha’ within which parties are expected to operate,” Sathyan said. “As partners we are not ideologically aligned. Ours is a secular party. We are only married based on the situation that has arisen to fight the battle.”
The latest provocation is by Tamil Nadu state BJP president L. Murugan’s remark that the party would not accept the views of AIADMK ministers.
Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar was among those to hit back. “Who is he to command us? We have not deviated from the alliance dharma,” Jayakumar told reporters Saturday. “When criticised, we will not remain mute spectators. Our leaders MGR and Jayalalithaa have taught us not to drag others into a confrontation. But if we are dragged into one, we will counter them.”
BJP’s Tamil Nadu spokesperson Thirupathy Narayanan, however, told ThePrint that there is no strain in the ties. “No leader has crossed the line. Some leaders in the BJP have only expressed their opinion, but that is just as a response to questions being posed to them by the media. Their statements are being misinterpreted by the media.”
Commenting on another sticking issue, seat-sharing for the assembly elections scheduled for 2021, Narayanan said, “The alliance formula for the 2021 elections will be decided by the heads of the respective parties.”
The acrimony between the two allies has been out in the open for a while now.
In August, the state BJP vice-president V.P. Duraisamy said the BJP will “lead the alliance in TN in 2021”. Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami quickly responded, making it clear that it would be the AIADMK that would lead the alliance.
This was followed by a rift over Ganesh Chaturthi processions, which the state government had banned. Murugan had been putting pressure on the Palanisamy government to heed to the demand made by the Hindu Munnani — a Hindu fringe outfit — to allow the processions, saying he did not understand the rationale behind allowing liquor shops to operate but not religious celebrations.
BJP’s national secretary H. Raja also chimed in, praising the Yediyurappa-led BJP government in Karnataka as an “aanmai ulla arasu (potent government)”. This was seen as a dig at the AIADMK-led government.
Jayakumar then retaliated, asking Raja not to “provoke them”.
“Potency is shown when you win scouts elections,” Sathyan told ThePrint, referring to Raja losing out on the post of president at Bharat Scouts and Guides in 2017 securing only 52 of the 286 votes.
In another instance of BJP leaders taunting the AIADMK, BJP social media convenor C.T.R. Nirmal Kumar tweeted, describing the AIADMK as a “party that hid behind the saree of a woman for 30 years”.
Jayakumar retaliated to the statement saying everybody knew which leaders were waiting in line to meet that very woman leader (read Jayalaithaa) many years ago.
In January this year, BJP leader and former Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan, who is from Kanyakumari, had referred to the state as a “terrorist hub” after the killing of Y. Wilson, a police sub-inspector, by assailants suspected to have IS links.
Jayakumar had then lashed out at Radhakrishnan: “What had he done for TN when he was Union minister or MP?”
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.