The BJP will lead the fight against the DMK in 2021 Tamil Nadu assembly elections, the party’s state vice-president VP Duraisamy said on Wednesday. He claimed that the six-decade Dravidian battle in TN has turned into a BJP vs DMK contest, effectively writing off its own ally, the AIADMK.
Addressing a press conference, Duraisamy said the change in dynamics had become apparent after the recent meeting between DMK MLA Ku. Ka. Selvam and BJP national president JP Nadda. Selvam had praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, and publicly questioned the DMK on not holding internal elections.
Political observers say Selvam’s actions were clearly anti-party by the standards of any Dravidian party. The DMK eventually suspended him from the party.
Duraisamy was the DMK’s deputy general secretary as recently as May 2020. His exit from the party was eerily similar to that of Selvam’s. He walked out after being stripped off party posts for meeting BJP's Tamil Nadu president L Murugan.
Duraisamy’s statements are not likely to go down well with the ruling AIADMK, especially his categorical assertion that the BJP would lead the alliance in TN since it is a national party and in power at the Centre.
The party has also been largely missing from the debate around alleged Hindi imposition in the state after the new National Education Policy was announced. DMK MP Kanimozhi’s allegation that her Indian identity was questioned by a CISF officer over not knowing Hindi has also pitted the DMK directly against the BJP, not the AIADMK.
On the verge of being written off the race, the AIADMK is also fractured by factionalism that had emerged after J Jayalalithaa’s death in 2016. Shattering the fragile truce between CM Edappadi Palamiswami and deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, state minister KT Rajenthra Bhalaji declared that it would be in the party’s best interests to rally behind the former ahead of elections.
The factions led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam joined hands in 2017 August after ousting Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala and her kin, including TTV
Dhinakaran, from the party.
Panneerelvam holds the numero uno position of coordinator in the party and Palaniswami is the co-coordinator, the second in command and all party decisions are taken jointly by them.
Next year’s election in the state will be keenly watched for more reason than one. This will be the first full-fledged assembly polls in the state after the death of M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa, giving the BJP an opportunity to open its account in vacuum. While superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan have not spelled out plans to contest despite entering politics two years ago, their moves will also influence the electorate’s mood.