The Bharatiya Janata Party is keeping a close eye on the developments in Tamil Nadu since Edappadi Palaniswamy (EPS) took over the reins of the AIADMK and expelled O Panneerselvam (OPS) in one of the ugliest power struggles in the state.
As the two factions fight for control, sources in the BJP claim it is the institution that matters and not individuals.
“We are yet to become a principal party in the state. We have decided that it is an institution like the AIADMK that matters to us, not any individual,” said a senior leader.
Responding to questions about BJP’s proximity to OPS and if the party will abandon the beleaguered leader now that he has been expelled from the AIADMK by EPS — who has elevated himself to the post of interim general secretary — a senior BJP leader said the party had maintained good relations with both leaders.
“A few days ago, when BJP leaders went to seek support for Presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu, they met both OPS and EPS. While Sasikala too is not allowed in the party, we keep our lines open for her as well. However, it is the party that we deal with, not persons,” he said.
The saffron party, which has four MLAs in Tamil Nadu and is working relentlessly to strengthen itself in the state that till now has not been kind to the BJP, maintains that the tussle between OPS and EPS is internal. However, it is adopting a wait-and-watch policy regarding the split.
The party leaders are also assured that AIADMK is fighting the DMK for power and the BJP is a natural ally for AIADMK as it can never align with the Congress.
“Jayalalithaa too had been our ally and had dislike for Congress. AIADMK still reveres her. They cannot go with the Congress. It is us that it can look up to for an alliance,” added the senior leader.
The BJP is trying to focus on its strength and core group of voters to register a substantial presence in the state that has been predominantly ruled by regional parties for quite some time.
Monday witnessed high drama as supporters of OPS and EPS engaged in a slugfest at the party office as the Madras High Court gave the green signal to the AIADMK to hold its general council meet on which OPS had sought a stay. The AIADMK annulled the dual leadership structure and has decided to hold organisational elections within four months.