Periyar E V Ramasamy.
Chennai: The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu is seemingly becoming uncomfortable with the BJP, in alliance with whom it contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This is indicated in the utterances of minister for khadi and village industries G Baskaran at Ilayangudi in Sivaganga district.
"We are looking for the right moment to part ways with the BJP," the minister said, addressing a predominantly Muslim audience on the occasion of the birth anniversary of AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran (MGR) last Tuesday. "All state ministers have expressed their opposition to the CAA (the Citizenship Amendment Act)," he said.
On Wednesday, fisheries minister D Jayakumar stepped in to scotch further speculation, saying that Baskaran had only expressed his personal opinion and that it was not the party’s stand. Baskaran himself did a volte face, stating that "the BJP-AIADMK alliance cannot be broken."
But there were enough indicators elsewhere that all is not well with the alliance.
One such indicator was Jayakumar taking potshots at actor Rajinikant for his speech at the Thuglak golden jubilee. The minister said the actor was harping on an incident that did not happen, and hailed Periyar E V Ramasamy as a great social revolutionary and questioned Rajinikanth’s intention behind dredging up something that allegedly happened, but in fact did not, way back in 1971.
A few other ministers have also been expressing their views against the alliance in subtle ways. In the Assembly, ministers like Udhayakumar and Vijaya Bhaskar spoke against the Centre with reference to issues like NPR and NEET, while Jayakumar himself lamented the non-receipt of funds from the Centre.
Such loud murmurs by AIADMK leaders against the BJP government in New Delhi are being heard only since the polls to rural local bodies as there is resentment at the grassroots level that the party has lost its vote bank among the minority communities because of its alliance with the BJP.
The fear that they could be alienating themselves from the people has gripped the AIADMK, which was evident in chief minister Edappadi Palanisamy’s letter to the central government asking it not to go ahead with the proposed hydrocarbon extraction project in the Cauvery delta. Even deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam has said no scheme that does not do good to the people would be implemented.
Even if the AIADMK might not be able to take a stand on severing ties with the BJP now, the manner in which many ministers slammed Rajinikanth for denouncing Periyar is another indicator that the party no more sees eye to eye with the BJP.
While all the top state leaders of the BJP like H Raja, S Ve Sekar, Subramanian Swamy and S Gurumurthy openly supported Rajinikanth for declaring he would not apologise for his goof-up in the narration of a 1971 rally organised by Periyar, ministers Pannerselvam, Udhayakumar, KA Sengottaiyan spoke highly of Periyar, sending across the message that they were not with the BJP.
Their eulogies to the Periyar were in stark contrast to the views of BJP leaders. That the ministers were speaking about Periyar in glowing terms in various parts of the state like Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore only went to prove that the party is keen on reaffirming its loyalty to Periyar, lest they earn the ire of the masses.
By taking a firm stand against Rajinikanth, the AIADMK is perhaps sending across the message that it is not dependent on the BJP. It means that AIADMK leaders have come a long way from the days following the death of J Jayalalithaa when they sought guidance from BJP leaders like Gurumurthy.
In fact, Gurumurthy openly speaking about one such occasion when Panneerselvam approached him for guidance has not gone down well with the AIADMK leaders and cadre. Gurumurthy had told a gathering of Thuglak readers how he asked Panneerselvam "Are you a man?" and then advised him to protest against VK Sasikala, who was making preparations to become the chief minister, had earned the wrath of many.