CHENNAI: Amid its existential crisis, the Edappadi K Palaniswami faction of the AIADMK, which has the support of more than 100 MLAs and at least 30 MPs, pledged its support on Friday for the candidate to be chosen by the ruling BJP for the July 17 Presidential Polls.
The AIADMK’s decision was conveyed to the BJP through Deputy Lok Sabha Speaker M Thambidurai during a meeting with Union Urban Development Minister M.Venkaiah Naidu. The minister is one among three top level Union ministers who has been authorised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, to build a consensus on the nominee who would occupy the majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan on the Raisina Hill in New Delhi.
Reflecting the troubled times that the AIADMK finds itself after the demise of its powerful and charismatic leader J. Jayalalithaa, it was Thambidurai who drove to Naidu’s residence to convey the party’s decision
In contrast, it was Naidu who drove to the residences of leaders belonging to Congress, CPI (M), CPI and other political parties to seek their support.
It was normal practice for national parties to either call on Jayalalithaa or call her over the phone to seek support. Mr Modi had sought the support of the AIADMK in the Presidential polls when Mr Palaniswami had met him in May and it was common knowledge that the AIADMK would not antagonise the BJP in any manner, more so with the party-led government surviving on a wafer-thin majority.
Although Thambidurai said “politics was not discussed” and he met Naidu as he is a “good friend”, sources admitted that the discussions centred around the presidential polls and that the ruling party of Tamil Nadu agreed to cast its vote in favour of the official nominee of the BJP.
On a parallel track, the BJP is understood to have sought the support of the other faction led by O. Pannerselvam. The only problem for the BJP now is to enlist the support of jailed AIADMK chief V.K. Sasikala’s nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran, who has the support of around 30 MLAs and a couple of MPs.
Mr Dhinakaran has openly accused the BJP of “jailing him” in a case relating to his allegedly trying to influence Election Commission officials to get a favourable order for his faction in “Two Leaves” symbol issue.
For the record, Thambidurai said as far as the presidential election is concerned the party will take an appropriate decision.
“Our Chief Minister, along with other senior ministers, will have discussions on this and decide within two days,” he added.
“The State government is dependent on Centre for financial assistance. After GST, Centre has to support states,” Mr Thambidurai said.