1. AIADMK merger: Here’s why OPS-EPS patch up goes beyond Tamil Nadu politics

AIADMK merger: Here’s why OPS-EPS patch up goes beyond Tamil Nadu politics

After months of remaining at odds with each other following the death of former Chief Minister and party chief Jayalalithaa, the warring factions of AIADMK joined hands today.

By: | New Delhi | Updated: August 21, 2017 7:19 PM
aiadmk merger, ops, eps, o panneerselvam, ek palaniswami, aiadmk news, jayalalithaa, aiadmk nda, aiadma bjp, tamil nadu politics, aiadmk news, aiadmk patch up O Pannerselvam (OPS) and EK Palaniswami (EPS) joind hands today. (PTI file)

After months of remaining at odds with each other following the death of former Chief Minister and party chief Jayalalithaa, the warring factions of AIADMK led by Tamil Nadu CM E K Pananiswami and O Panneerselvam joined hands today, paving way for a stable polity in the state. However, their merger could have larger significance much beyond the Tamil Nadu politics. It has been rumoured in the past few weeks that AIADMK may join the ruling NDA at the Centre. Such a move would be mutually beneficial for both the AIADMK in the state and ruling BJP at the Centre.

If AIADMK joins BJP, the saffron party would become a part of the ruling group in the southern state. The AIADMK would benefit by joining the NDA as the state government needs Centre’s backing and funds to carry out development projects that have been apparently halted amid months-long political scuffle in the state following Jayalalithaa’s shock demise. At this point of time, these are mere expectations. However, there are two developments of the day that hint something is cooking in the power corridors of National Capital.

Soon after the news of the merger became public, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter, congratulating the development in Tamil Nadu. “I congratulate Thiru O Panneerselvam & others who took oath today. I hope Tamil Nadu scales newer heights of progress in the years to come. Centre assures all possible support to CM Thiru Edappadi K. Palaniswami & Dy CM Thiru O Panneerselvam for the growth of TN,” he said in a series of tweets.

PM Modi’s quick response on the merger reminded one of the recent upheaval in Bihar politics, when CM Nitish Kumar broke ranks with the Grand Alliance and joined hands with old ally BJP. Then also PM Modi was quick to congratulate Kumar and welcome him to join the “fight against corruption.” Kumar’s JD(U) eventually formally joined the ruling NDA at the Centre. PM Modi’s tweets today left enough hints to guess the coming of AIADMK in NDA fold at the Centre.

Secondly, BJP chief Amit Shah today postponed his scheduled three-day visit to Tamil Nadu from Tuesday. BJP state unit chief Tamilsai Sounderrajan said Shah postponed his visit following a meeting of NDA chief ministers in Delhi today and his subsequent required presence in various other important meetings, according to PTI.

In another report, PTI said Shah’s visit was postponed amid “speculation of a reshuffle in the Union Cabinet”.

“He has postponed his visit because his stay in the national capital was deemed to be more important in the coming few days,” a senior BJP leader told PTI. Shah was to visit Tamil Nadu from August 22-24 as part of his 95-day nation-wide tour. It is hard to speculate on what is going on in the minds of Shah and PM Modi. But the chances of AIADMK joining the NDA cannot yet be ruled out.

India Today reported on July 31 that BJP was in talks with AIADMK leadership in this regard and a senior Cabinet minister was trying to unite the two warring factions, who came together today.

If the AIADMK joins NDA, it would be a historic role-reversal for late Jayalalithaa’s party. Ever since Jayalalithaa became the reason of the fall of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government at the Centre in 1998, the BJP has been constantly trying to woo the regional party. Even PM Modi kept late Jayalalithaa in good humour and speculations were rife that her party would support BJP at the Centre after 2014 General Elections. That didn’t happen, however.

An AIADMK-BJP combine in Tamil Nadu would make it more difficult for the opposition comprising of DMK, Congress and Left parties to make a comeback in the next elections. More importantly, it will further boost PM Modi’s chances of returning to power in 2019.

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