Friends turned foes slug it out in Tamil Nadu

Synopsis

Parties like DMDK, Pattali Makkal Katchi, Makkal Needhi Maiam, and Naam Tamilar Katchi are yet to decide on their alliances. They have limited options – either BJP or AIADMK.

aiadmkAgencies

Chennai: Friends turned foes – the BJP and AIADMK – are locked in a rancorous war at times becoming personal targetting BJP state chief K Annamalai, in a charged-up political atmosphere in Tamil Nadu ahead of the Lok Sabha election.

Anticipating the early announcement of the poll, the ruling DMK has initiated talks with its allies on seat-sharing and is gearing up to bring out its poll manifesto. Though a multi-cornered contest appears imminent, as of now, the political parties barring the DMK and allies are still hazy on alliance.

While former Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami sees red at the mention of DMK president and Chief Minister M K Stalin, the loose cannons in his AIADMK devote more time on personally targetting Annamalai and sustain themselves in the limelight.

“Much of their ire is due to the BJP’s preference for former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam as a reliable ally than to AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami,” a senior BJP leader said. BJP has never been comfortable in the company of ambitious Palaniswami, who in a bid to garner the minorities votes has expressed opposition to the Uniform Civil Code.

The AIADMK General Secretary, who severed poll ties with the BJP in September last year, due to Annamalai’s aggressive politics, is engaged in forming an alliance under his leadership. Another cause for heartburn for the AIADMK was the shifting of loyalties by 12 of its former legislators and a MP, recently, to the BJP. A former MLA each from the DMK, Congress and DMDK, too joined the BJP.

Ridiculing it, former AIADMK Minister D Jayakumar remarked “the Tamil Nadu Governor will invite Annamalai to form the government with those former MLAs.” Further, he likened the BJP state president to a “mud horse” and said Annamalai was creating an illusion that people were joining the BJP. “Those who follow him are likely to disappear when the mud horse disintegrates in water,” Jayakumar claimed.

Both the Dravidian majors too have been welcoming a steady trickle of workers from other parties, as it is election time. Though the Congress, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and the Left parties too have a presence in certain pockets in the state, they toe the DMK’s line.

While the ruling DMK is comfortably placed as its alliance is intact, AIADMK and BJP are vying to form an alliance with smaller parties. Other political parties such as the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) and the Pattali Makkal Katchi are yet to decide on an alliance and the options before them are only a few – either the BJP or AIADMK. Parties such as actor Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam and actor Seeman-led Naam Tamilar Katchi would also be in the fray.

“Annamalai’s politics of publicity won’t work in Tamil Nadu,” claimed former AIADMK state Minister Kadambur Raju while Jayakumar, training his guns on Panneerselvam, claimed the latter would join the BJP after the Lok Sabha election. Former AIADMK Minister R B Udayakumar, who appeared to go overboard in his criticism, called Annamalai a “Leghiyam (a traditional thick herbal medicine that boosts immunity) seller and said the BJP president was a political novice.

“Yes, I am Leghiyam trader. I sell the best Leghiyam to banish corruption, rowdyism and anarchy in Tamil Nadu. Those who consume my Leghiyam can see results of a good administration, and good leadership” Annamalai, dismissing Udayakumar as an “invalid currency” retorted while leading his six-month-old En Mann, En Makkal (My Land, My People) yatra, recently.

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William Murphy

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