The BJP’s national leadership, according to party insiders, did not expect the AIADMK to break away. The outcome in southern states is crucial to the party’s Lok Sabha poll ambitions.
Days after the AIADMK severed ties with the BJP and exited the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the ruling party’s national leadership is keen on having a relook at the alliance given that the Lok Sabha elections are less than a year away. Sources told The Indian Express that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was in Chennai for an official function on Tuesday, had been asked to give a “status report” on the end of the alliance with the AIADMK.
The national leadership, according to party insiders, did not expect the AIADMK, which had been angry at state BJP president K Annamalai for a while now, to break away. Though the long rope the leadership gave to Annamalai might have been a strategy to grow out of the AIADMK’s shadow, the BJP initiated efforts to “patch up” with its ally with 2024 in mind, according to sources. This is where Sitharaman comes in. The outcome in southern states is crucial to the BJP’s Lok Sabha poll ambitions.
In the 2019 parliamentary elections, when the BJP and AIADMK fought together for the first time, the rival DMK-led alliance won 37 of the 38 seats for which elections were held (the DMK alliance won one more later). The BJP, which contested four constituencies, failed to retain the only seat it held in the state.
A senior leader had earlier said that the BJP leadership might have believed it had more time to iron out the differences with the AIADMK and had not started giving serious thought to election talk in Tamil Nadu. The leader said Annamalai had been told recently not to make provocative remarks against the AIADMK. “It shows that the national leadership was keen to keep the alliance intact.”
But, Annamalai pushed the AIADMK into a corner by attacking its icons such as C N Annadurai and Jayalalithaa. The push to review the current situation comes as the BJP is still not viewed favourably in the state.
Annamalai dug his heels in on the Sanatan Dharma row. Following the backlash to his comments about Annadurai, Annamalai said while he respects Annadurai’s legacy he would not accept AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami as the leader of the NDA in Tamil Nadu. On September 22, as reported by The Indian Express, an AIADMK delegation travelled discreetly to Delhi to meet the BJP leadership. A top AIADMK leader with knowledge of the meeting said the delegation expressed to BJP president J P Nadda their cadre’s unhappiness with Annamalai because of his repeated comments against their party and leadership. “We sought action against him, or demanded the BJP national leadership to appoint an NDA convenor for Tamil Nadu to keep the allies together and keep Annamalai away from this election,” the AIADMK functionary said.