The much-expected electoral alliance in Tamil Nadu between the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the BJP, among others, was formalised on Tuesday. Of the forty Lok Sabha seats in the State, including one in Puducherry, the national party will contest five. It has one party MP presently. The Pattali Makkal Katchi of former Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss will be another ally.
It has been earmarked seven Lok Sabha seats. The party will support the ruling party in the forthcoming 21 Assembly by-elections following their disqualification by the Speaker for defecting to the rival AIDMK faction of Dinakaran. Also, the alliance leaders are certain that actor Vijayakanth’s DMDK too will join them. Commenting on the alliance, the leader of the Opposition DMK, M K Stalin, said the PMK leaders were openly critical of the AIADMK but had now joined it for money.
The criticism is valid for almost all parties, including Stalin’s own party, which at one time or the other has abused rival parties and then teamed up with it to fight elections in concert. Why, DMK was part of the Vajpayee Government and then in the following poll it had the Congress as an ally and shared power for a decade in the UPA-led Manmohan Singh Government.
It is notable that whenever the BJP has joined an alliance in Tamilnadu, both the lead partner and the BJP have done badly. Maybe this time thanks to Modi the electoral fortunes will be much bettr. Tamilnadu is crucial for the NDA insofar the likely losses in the West and North could well be made up in other parts of the country. The BJP hopes to pick up seats in the East, particularly in West Bengal and Orissa, and a few in Kerala and Tamilnadu.
On the other hand, the Congress has firmed up the alliance with the DMK which may be jointly announced by the leaders of the two parties in Chennai in the next few days. Notably, if the AIADMK is without the mass leader, J Jayalalithaa, the DMK will go in this election without the founder, K Karunanidhi. Unlike Jayalalithaa, who did not groom anyone in the second-rung as her successor, Karunanidhi did. His second son, Stalin, took the reins of the party when his father was incapacitated by old age-related illness.
An unknown in his case is the extent of damage his step older brother M K Alagiri will do, though Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi, an accused in the 2-G case who was acquitted in a controversial verdict, is with her step brother Stalin. Meanwhile, despite all that sabre-rattling by Uddhav Thackeray and other Sainiks, the renewal of ties with the BJP was always on the cards. More than for the BJP, for the Sena getting into bed with any other ‘secular’ party would have proved the kiss of death.
Witness how the Congress vetoed the Sharad Pawar’s move to accommodate Raj Thackeray’s Navnirman Sena under the Congress-NCP tent. Being a national party, the Congress did not want to be forced on the back foot with a truck with the rabid communalist some of whose statements border on inciting violence. The seat sharing formula between the BJP and the Sena reflects the latter’s grouse that BJP had snatched what the party considers its monopoly, that is, the chief ministerial kursi.
It would have settled for fewer parliamentary seats if the BJP had not insisted on contesting an equal number of Assembly seats. For the Lok Sabha, the BJP-Sena divided the total of 48 seats 25:23. It is a calculated risk the BJP has taken because in case the alliance does well, the Sena will constantly flex its muscle, insisting on a bigger share in power than what the BJP would be willing to give. Apparently, the roaring tiger of the Sena quietened down after the BJP had it conveyed that neither the NCP nor the MNS was an anathema for it.
As one of the oldest allies of the BJP, the Sena has a lot to learn from another old ally, the Akali Dal. The Akalis don’t abuse their allies, nor do they hanker for more ministerial posts than is warranted by their numbers. In the coming campaign the opposition will throw nasty words uttered by Uddhav and his courtiers against the BJP and he will be hard put to explain himself.