The general council of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) said on Thursday that it would like to see party chief and Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa become the country’s prime minister—a move that effectively rules out an alliance between the party and either of the two main national parties, the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Congress will likely go it alone in Tamil Nadu, with its erstwhile ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) recently saying it would not partner with the party.
There have been murmurs in some quarters about a possible alliance between the BJP and the AIADMK, perhaps arising from the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s presence at Gujarat chief minister and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony last year, but Thursday’s announcement puts those to rest.
Analysts say the AIADMK’s move also gives a major boost to the creation of a third front, a possible alternative to the Congress- and BJP-led groupings, the United Progressive Alliance and the National Democratic Alliance, respectively, ahead of next year’s general election.
Indeed, the AIADMK’s general council has asked Jayalalithaa to decide which parties could be approached for such an alliance. Tamil Nadu sends 39 representatives to Parliament. In the 2009 general election, the AIADMK won only nine of them, but Jayalalithaa’s party swept to power in the 2011 assembly elections in the state, winning 150 of the 235 seats in the assembly and is expected to do much better in 2014. (It recently won a by-election to take its strength to 151 seats.)
Since 1999, neither the BJP nor the Congress has won more than 206 seats (Congress in 2009) in the 543-member Lok Sabha, making it necessary for both to depend on regional parties to make up the numbers.
Speaking to the general council at Vanagaram, a satellite town of Chennai, Jayalalithaa emphasized that she would like to see her party win all 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. She added that the AIADMK would go it alone in the state for the Lok Sabha election.
“All the members of AIADMK want Jayalalitha to become prime minister this time and we have been working in this direction for the last three-four months. The federal structure of the country should give a chance to political leaders of other states to lead the country,” said M. Thambi Durai, an AIADMK leader in the Lok Sabha.
A political analyst said the council’s views reflect Jayalalithaa’s ambition.
“This is a clear move towards formation of a third front and it is a thinly veiled expression of J. Jayalalithaa’s ambition for the top post,” said Hyderabad-based Parakal Prabhakar. That’s probably why the AIADMK hasn’t thrown its lot in with the BJP, added Gnani Sankaran, a Chennai-based writer and political commentator. A BJP member said the council’s announcement rules out any remaining possibility of an alliance with the AIADMK.
“Senior leaders of the AIADMK are openly saying that J. Jayalalithaa is their prime ministerial candidate this time. Since the BJP already has a prime ministerial candidate and there cannot be two prime ministerial candidates in an alliance, there is no question of joining hands with the AIADMK for the general election. It’s a different thing that most of the central leaders of the BJP have good relations with J. Jayalalithaa at a personal level,” said L. Ganesan, a senior leader of the BJP in Tamil Nadu and a national executive member of the party.
Modi has addressed two public meetings in Tamil Nadu in recent months, but no representatives from the AIADMK were present at either, admitted Ganesan.
The BJP can now go it alone, try to build bridges with the DMK, which was part of the National Democratic Alliance government in 1999 (although this would rule out any post-election arrangement with the AIADMK), or forge relationships with smaller parties in Tamil Nadu.
“Vaiko, the chief of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, has already met BJP president Rajnath Singh,” Ganesan said. (Wall Street Journal)