According to a senior BJP leader, the Lok Sabha elections are one and a half years away and moreover, there is still no clarity on the leadership of the regional parties— AIADMK and DMK. “While the situation is very fluid in AIADMK, the leadership of M.K. Stalin is not fully established within DMK. Tamil Nadu politics is going through a phase of transition. Therefore, we want to wait for some time before taking any decision as far as forging an alliance is concerned,” he said.
The party wants to see the moves of film star Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan, who have indicated that they may take a plunge into politics. “It remains to be seen how the situation unfolds in 2018 in Tamil Nadu. The two strong faces of Dravidian parties which have been ruling the state for 50-odd years are missing now. While former Chief Minister and AIADMK leader J. Jayalalitha is no more, DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi is 94 years old. He has given charge to his son M.K. Stalin but there is a complete vacuum and we will have to see how things evolve in the next few months,” said the BJP leader.
BJP president Amit Shah is likely to pay a visit to Tamil Nadu soon in order to gauge the mood at the ground level. Though the party needs an alliance partner to make its presence felt in the state, sources said a final call will be taken only before the Lok Sabha elections. Till that time, the party will work towards strengthening its organisation in the state on its own. At present, the party has only one member, P. Radhakrishnan in the Lok Sabha who won from the Kanyakumari constituency.
There has been speculation about the BJP’s plans in Tamil Nadu ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi met DMK leader Karunanidhi last month. It was speculated that BJP could go with the DMK as AIADMK had weakened after Jayalalithaa’s death. However, Tamil Nadu BJP spokesperson K.T. Raghavan told The Sunday Guardian that there was no substance in these speculations. “Modiji is the senior most leader of the country and the party and he met the ailing DMK leader. It was just a courtesy call and had nothing to do with an alliance,” he said.
He said the state BJP is gearing up to contest the next elections alone though the party would welcome any other party for alliance, provided it accepts the leadership of Narendra Modi. “We are not in a hurry for any alliance,” he said categorically.
Though the two factions of the AIADMK have merged together, the results of R.K. Nagar byelection came as a jolt to the ruling party. T.T.V. Dinakaran of the rival Sasikala camp won the 21 December byelection, defeating the official AIADMK candidate E. Madhusudhanan by an impressive margin of 40,000 votes. The byelection was necessitated due to the death of the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who represented the constituency.
The results came as a rude shock to Choef Minister E.K. Palaniswami and Deputy CM O. Panneerselvam. It indicated that the leadership issue within the AIADMK continued to remain unresolved. While Dinakaran claimed that the people of R.K. Nagar elected the heir to Jayalalithaa’s legacy, the AIADMK expelled nine party leaders who were close to Dinakaran. The AIADMK has alleged that the voters had been bribed to favour Dinakaran. BJP’s Raghavan also alleged that Dinakaran won because of “money power”.
The BJP feels that Dravidian politics is on its way out and space has emerged for the national parties. The BJP has been trying to get a foothold in the state for a long time but has not succeeded. Another senior BJP leader said: “We have always been keen to make our presence felt in the state. We will consolidate our presence by strengthening the organisation, though it is going to be a difficult task.”