It is official. The PMK will support the AIADMK in the by-election to 21 assembly constituencies, beating the Congress in a race for alliance.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has successfully brought the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) into its fold, offering it six Lok Sabha seats and one Rajya Sabha seat to contest as part of a pre-poll alliance. The BJP and AIADMK have beaten the Congress to win the support ahead of the crucial Lok sabha elections slated to be held this year. It is particularly noteworthy that AIADMK is quite strong in Tamil Nadu, receiving 37 seats in the 16th Lok Sabha, making it the third largest party in the house.
AIADMK chief and deputy CM O Panneerselvam confirmed the news at a press conference with PMK leaders on Tuesday. However, a formal announcement by all three parties – BJP, AIADMK and PMK on the grand alliance is yet to come.
Led by S Ramadoss, the PMK is popular in the northern Tamil Nadu, and enjoys immense support among the OBC Vanniyar community.
AIADMK, as well as its rival DMK, were working hard to woo the PMK since the past few weeks in a bid to set up a diverse caste coalition for the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry. PMK founder leader S Ramadoss defined the alliance as “an alliance for people’s welfare, a mega coalition and a victorious alliance.”
Ramadoss added, “To retrieve the rights of Tamil Nadu people, we have made a 10-point charter of demands.”
The demands include declaring the Cauvery delta districts as a protected farm region, a caste wise census in Tamil Nadu and seven Rajiv case convicts to be set free. The decision for aligning with the AIADMK will be explained by former Union Health Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss later on.
In 2014 as well, the PMK was part of the NDA in 2014 general elections, however, Ambumani Ramadoss, despite being an MP, was not given any ministership in the Narendra Modi government, souring the relationship between the BJP and the PMK, which was also in negotiating with the Congress.
Many are suggesting that the path is now clear for Thirumavalavan’s Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) to shake hands with the Congress-DMK as PMK has found its way into the AIADMK-BJP alliance. Speculations are ripe that bypolls for 18 Assembly constituencies could very well be held along with the Lok Sabha elections this year.
The AIADMK will need to win at least 11 seats for a comfortable majority in the Assembly. It seems that the Chief Minister E Palaniswami, and his right-hand man O Panneerselvam, put thought towards the strength of the state government and also give a push for an alliance with the PMK to help AIADMK win the assembly bypolls.