AIADMK breaks up with BJP in Tamil Nadu
While the latest flashpoint may have been the state BJP chief's remarks on CN Annadurai, one of the tallest leaders of the Dravidian movement, the alliance has been under stress for some time
CHENNAI: In what could be termed as a big setback for the BJP at the national level at a time when it is trying to rope in at least a few more parties, AIADMK, one of its key allies, on Monday snapped its ties with the BJP and declared that the AIADMK has moved out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the BJP.
A unanimous decision to snap ties with the BJP was taken at the AIADMK's district secretaries and office bearers meeting here.
The resolution said the decision to break the alliance with the BJP has been taken in deference to the views and feelings of more than two crores of AIADMK cadre.
The resolution also said BJP's state leadership has belittled the historic state-level conference of the AIADMK held on August 20 and has been criticising AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami. This has caused unrest among the office bearers and cadres.
The resolution further said for the past one year, the state leadership of the BJP with ulterior motives, has been criticising the AIADMK and the leaders including Arignar CN Annadurai, and J Jayalalithaa, and the ideals of the AIADMK.
One of the immediate triggers for the move seems to have been a remark made by Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai's controversial remarks about former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Dravidian icon CN Annadurai.
Annamalai alleged that Annadurai insulted Hinduism at an event in Madurai in 1956. The BJP leader had also alleged that Annadurai was kept hidden in Madurai and he escaped after he issued an apology.
CN Annadurai was one of the most popular political leaders in the state, and commands devotion and respect across party lines. He was the fourth and last Chief Minister of Madras State from 1967 until 1969, and is worshipped by both DMK as well as AIADMK cadres.
BJP State Chief K Annamalai said he had no comment to offer on the matter, and a proper response on the issue will be given by the national leadership.
The latest alliance between BJP and AIADMK was formed ahead of the 2019 Indian general election with the aim of increasing the BJP's presence and vote share in Tamil Nadu. At the time, the AIADMK was the ruling party in the state under Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami.
The origins of the alliance can be traced back to the late 1990s when the BJP began making inroads into Tamil Nadu politics.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the AIADMK contested as part of the National Democratic Alliance led by the BJP. As part of seat sharing, the AIADMK contested on 20 seats while the BJP and PMK contested on 5 and 7 seats respectively. The alliance managed to win 1 seat for BJP and 9 for AIADMK.
The alliance has been controversial within both parties. Hardline Tamil nationalists in the AIADMK are opposed to aligning with the BJP which is seen as a primarily North Indian party. They fear it could undermine the AIADMK's Tamil nationalist credentials. On the BJP side, some felt an alliance with a party that took birth from the Dravidian movement compromised the party's ideology and Hindutva agenda.
Moreover, despite being electoral allies, there have been flashpoints between the two parties over issues such as NEET exams, the Citizenship Amendment Act, among others. The AIADMK opposed measures it felt went against Tamil Nadu's interests.
From the perspective of realpolitik, strong regional players have been growing wary of allying with the BJP because of the latter's track-record of using such alliances to consolidate its base in the state at the cost of the regional partner, as happened in Maharashtra.
Ahead of the 2021 Tamil Nadu elections, the AIADMK continued its alliance with the BJP. However, this time the alliance failed to garner public support and suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the DMK-led alliance.
The loss led to introspection within the AIADMK on aligning with the BJP. Some felt that the national party failed to transfer its votes to the AIADMK. There are now uncertainties on whether the alliance will continue in the future, especially with new leadership in the AIADMK after J. Jayalalithaa's death.
Overall, the AIADMK-BJP alliance has been an experimental alliance between two parties with contrasting ideologies. While it has helped the BJP make electoral inroads into Tamil Nadu, the alliance's future remains doubtful given the complex dynamics of Tamil Nadu's politics.