AIADMK woos allies ahead of civic and state assembly polls | Opinion

Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK considers alliance partners key to replicating its October by-polls success in the December-end civic polls and 2021 assembly polls in the state, and is, therefore, making efforts to retain them, say political experts.

AIADMK had entered into an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, Dr. Ramadoss’s Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK – an OBC Vanniyar party), actor-turned-politician Vijayakant’s Desiya Murpokku Dravidar Kazhagam (DMDK), former Minister GK Vaasan’s Tamil Maanila Congress (Moopanar) (TMC-M), Puthiya Thamilagam (PT- a Dalit Party representing Pallars) and New Justice Party (NJP – an OBC Mudhaliyar party) before the general elections in April 2019. AIADMK lost all the Lok Sabha seats in the state except the Thani seat, leading to Puthiya Thamilagam’s exit from the alliance.

Babu Jayakumar, a noted Journalist and political analyst says AIADMK realises that recent victories in Vikravandi and Nanguneri assembly by-polls were not possible without allies and is making efforts to retain the advantage in the post-Jayalalithaa era.

“Vikravandi is a Vanniyar belt. Therefore, PMK helped in the success of the AIADMK candidate. Also, in Nanguneri, OBC Nadars are the dominant caste. As sections of Hindu Nadars are loyal to the BJP, it helped the AIADMK defeat the DMK candidate there. After evaluating this, the AIADMK government wants to keep allies in good humour,” Babu Jayakumar told HT.

Another analyst S Ramesh, who is also an advocate at the Madras High Court, said AIADMK’s dependence on allies has increased as it is yet to regain its full might after Jayalalithaa’s demise and doesn’t want the DMK to poach its allies.

“DMDK and PMK were in talks with the DMK before the general elections which didn’t materialize, making them join the AIADMK alliance. So, anything could happen at the time of elections. Though AIADMK won a few seats in by-polls, it has still not become as powerful as it was under Jaya. So, the AIADMK leaders are appeasing their allies,” said Ramesh.

The AIADMK government recently erected a memorial for Ramasamy Padaiyachiyar, a Vanniyar politician, in Cuddalore – a hotspot for Vanniyars. Jayakumar said it was done to “woo Vanniyars and the PMK”.

The AIADMK had also withdrawn old cases against DMDK chief Vijayakanth added Jayakumar.

“Jayalalithaa had slapped DMDK’s Vijayakanth with several defamation cases during AIADMK’s 2011-2016 regime. However, current CM Edappadi K Palaniswami had withdrawn nine of those defamation suits,” he said.

He also cited incidents of AIADMK leaders O Panneerselvaam and Mafoi Pandiayarajan backing BJP’s stance on Triple Talaq bill and Tamil philosophical poet Thiruvalluvar.

“This shows that AIADMK wants to consolidate and retain its allies for civic polls and 2021 assembly polls,” said Jayakumar.

AIADMK spokesperson Sivashankari said the allies were strongly supporting the ruling party and AIADMK’s efforts to maintain good relations will send a positive message to the electorate.

“People did not accept our 2019 Lok Sabha alliance, forged before polls, since we had travelled on different paths and criticised each other in the run-up to elections. However, after the LS polls, we have maintained a cordial relationship. Since our allies are strongly supporting us, our government is fulfilling their needs,” Sivashankari told HT.

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