‘In the name of PM Modi’: BJP, AIADMK join hands in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry for Lok Sabha polls

In a favourable development for the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the AIADMK on Tuesday closed the deal on their alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections 2019.

The two parties would fight the parliamentary elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry together, Union minister Piyush Goyal announced here. He was flanked by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam.

“I am extremely delighted that the AIADMK and the BJP have concluded very fruitful discussions and agreed to contest the parliamentary elections both in Tamil Nadu and by-elections to 21 seats together in alliance along with other friendly partners,” said Union Minister Piyush Goyal, the BJP’s negotiator.

The alliance will contest the Tamil Nadu elections under the leadership of the AIADMK and the national elections in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said.

Even before its tie-up with the BJP, the AIADMK announced a pact with the PMK and also its share of seats. Chief Minister E Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam met with PMK’s S Ramadoss, after which it was announced that the smaller party will contest seven parliamentary seats in 39-seat Tamil Nadu.

The BJP yesterday finalised its alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. In Tamil Nadu, it is a minor player compared to the ruling AIADMK.

In 2014, the BJP, snubbed by former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, formed an alliance with parties like MDMK, PMK and DMDK and won only two seats; the BJP’s Pon Radhakrishnan, who won the party’s lone seat in Kanyakumari, became a union minister. The J Jayalalithaa-led AIAMDK won 37 seats.

Two years later, the BJP scored a duck in the Tamil Nadu election. The party is aggressively chasing an alliance this time to gain a foothold in the major southern state.

The AIADMK, pursued by the BJP, held out for long and even declared more than once that such an alliance was out of the question. But over the past two years, the party has seen dramatic changes since the death of its charismatic and strong leader Jayalalithaa in 2016.

The AIADMK split down the middle with a rebel faction supporting Jayalalithaa’s closest aide VK Sasikala, who made a failed bid to take over the party and chief ministership before being jailed for corruption. Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran has launched AMMK and even won Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar constituency in a by-election.

The AIADMK-BJP also sense the need to firm up a strong alliance after megastar Rajinikanth declared that he would not contest the polls and that no party should use his outfit to capitalise on votes. The other star-politician, Kamal Hassan has often criticised the BJP, and is mostly likely to opt for the anti-BJP alliance or go alone.