The principal opposition party in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK is in the midst of a crisis with the Edappadi K. Palaniswami faction emerging stronger and edging out the party coordinator and former Chief Minister, O. Panneerselvam and his associates.
What is being watched in the political circles of Tamil Nadu are the moves of the Bharatiya Janata Party. After the advent of K. Annamalai, a former Karnataka cadre IPS officer as the state president of the BJP, the party has adopted an aggressive mode.
AIADMK organising secretary and former Minister, A. Ponnayian had in a recent party camp told the cadres that the BJP was trying to edge out the AIADMK and that the party cadres must be vigilant against any such moves by the saffron party.
BJP floor leader in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly, Nainar Nagenthran has retorted to this and stated that it was the BJP members in the legislative assembly who are vocal against the ruling DMK.
The BJP had contested the rural body elections and the urban local body elections alone, much to the surprise of political observers. The BJP and the AIADMK had contested the 2021 assembly elections on the NDA front and the relationship is continuing. But the BJP state leadership announced that it would contest these elections alone to increase the organisational network of the party across Tamil Nadu.
Political observer Dr Mukundraj told IANS, "Politics is the art of the possible and there is nothing wrong in the BJP trying to push the AIADMK into a corner and gain the upper hand. However, it is not as easy as the BJP managers think as the AIADMK is a political party deeply rooted in Dravidian traditions just like its bitter opponent, DMK and that marks the difference with the saffron party which has still not been able to gain proper ground in the state."
While the Palaniswami faction of the AIADMK is quite confident of their leader becoming the single leader of the party in the next general council meeting on July 11, there is scepticism in the Panneerselvam camp. However, being a seasoned politician with deep roots in the strong AIADMK belt of South Tamil Nadu, thanks to his Thevar community identity, he cannot be easily pushed out.
The question is whether the BJP will support the estranged section close to Pannerselvam and piggy ride on its back to gain a political foothold in Tamil Nadu.
Sources in the OPS camp told IANS that the BJP is clandestinely trying to activate V.K. Sasikala, the estranged former interim general secretary of the AIADMK. Both Sasikala and Panneerselvam are from the Thevar community which has traditionally been the supporters of the party.
Sasikala, even though estranged from the party, has a grassroots connect with the AIADMK cadres and leaders across Tamil Nadu and this part is being actively pitched by both the BJP and the faction close to OPS.
While survival is important for Panneerselvam, the BJP is trying to gain ground in Tamil Nadu with a slew of political moves and it is to be seen how the saffron party will manage in the murky political waters of Tamil Nadu.
Sources in the Tamil Nadu BJP told IANS that in politics there are no permanent friends or foes and if the party leadership wants to speak to Sasikala and the Thevar community elders it cannot be ruled out. The saffron party is desperately trying to get a foothold in Tamil Nadu. If the party piggybacks on the faction close to Panneerselvam and enters into a deal with Sasikala, there can be tremors in the AIADMK.
The BJP, according to sources, is expecting that if Palaniswami is elected as the single general secretary of the party on July 11, it will be politically difficult for Panneerselvam to continue in the AIADMK. If he joins up with Sasikala and the BJP gives support from outside, things won't be easy for Palaniswami and the AIADMK. The saffron party is expecting to wriggle into that space and get a foothold in the politics of Tamil Nadu.