The BJP has managed to stitch together a ‘rainbow alliance’, which was conceived by one person but took dogged efforts by many others, from both within the party and outside, to become a reality.
First pitched by former Congressman and Gandhiya Makkal Katchi founder Tamilaruvi Manian, the realisation of this alliance is a major achievement for Muralidhar Rao, the BJP national secretary and Tamil Nadu in charge, and other faces of the State unit, who had been dismissed as lacking in the stature to achieve the goal.
Other major contributions have come from PMK scion Anbumani Ramadoss and DMDK’s backseat driver L K Sudheesh.
Even as the BJP’s national high command washed its hands of the wrangling in the opinion that Tamil Nadu would bring it no great gains in the poll itself, State president Pon Radhakrishnan, national executive member L Ganesan and Rao laboured through the massive swings in fortune, first with the DMDK and then with the PMK.
The trio also effectively shielded the actual seat-sharing talks committee from the media, often gritting through tough questions.
After initial attempts and the establishment of back-channel communications, Manian gradually stepped back, leaving it to the leaders of the parties to beat out the details. When he did reduce his role, it was taken up in January by the seat sharing talks committee, comprising of former State president K N Lakshmanan, State general secretary S R Saravanaperumal and Tamil Nadu vice president M Chakravarthy.
Initially criticised for not having the stature to conduct negotiations of this scale, the committee played a critical role in absorbing pressure from allies, even as the major players made their moves. MDMK chief Vaiko and Indhiya Jananayaka Katchi leader T R Pachamuthu gave the BJP the least amount of trouble. A bit of resistance was also faced from Kongu Nadu Makkal Desiya Katchi founder E R Eswaran, who insisted on being given the Tirupur seat. But once the question was addressed, he too fell in line. It was with the DMDK and the PMK that the BJP indeed had a tough time.
After its initial role as the enfant terrible of the alliance, the DMDK came through with few bumps, thanks to the role played by DMDK youth wing secretary and Vijayakant’s brother-in-law Sudheesh. He, however, came around to a cooperative mode only after keeping the BJP waiting as he courted the Congress.
The largest odds, however, were surmounted by Anbumani Ramadoss. Preparing for his first ever electoral fight, Anbumani also ended up making his first attempt at taking a firm line on PMK’s party matters.
In this, he faced off against none other than his father and party founder, S Ramadoss.
Even as the Anbumani camp continued to insist talks were progressing, it had to contend with constant jingoism against the truck with the BJP.
It was Anbumani’s intense wrangling with his own party’s old guard, especially over the past week, which resulted in the PMK finally reprising its place.
Apart from these prominent players, a number of others played important roles behind the scenes to help make the NDA a force that could be potentially dangerous to other political formations.