With AIADMK Being an Inactive Opposition, How BJP is Gaining a Foothold in Tamil Nadu Politics

A lone voice of concern against the growing influence of BJP in Tamil Nadu at the expense of its larger ally, AIADMK, has emanated from the Dravidian party, giving vent to a silent rumbling within the party ever since the political narrative shifted to a DMK versus BJP tussle in recent months.

V Ponnaiyan, former AIADMK minister and long-timer at AIADMK, at a party function in which leaders such as B Thambidurai and other party cadre were present, pointed out to BJP’s growth in Tamil Nadu and how it was taking ambivalent stances across the states such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery water issue.

Ponnaiyan also spoke about the need for the AIADMK’s IT wing to wake up to the political reality in Tamil Nadu and start “exposing” the BJP.

Ponnaiyan’s move to sound out the shifting dynamic arrives at a time the top echelon of the AIADMK has been largely adopting a touch-and-go attitude to several issues central to the state politics. For example, state BJP president K Annamalai took out a rally to picket the state Secretariat to urge the government to cut fuel prices.

AIADMK leaders Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam have been releasing statements regularly over issues plaguing the state such as an alleged slippage in law and order, and other social issues.

However, the state unit of the BJP has been stridently criticising the DMK government. Over the last month, several issues including the one of Palanquin Procession of the Dharmapuram Adheenam and the Beef Biryani festival of Ambur had a crystal clear DMK versus BJP polarisation, something different from the purely Dravidian battle that Tamil Nadu has witnessed over the last five decades.

K Annamalai—the first to rise to the position within a year of joining the party—has adopted a frontally stand-offish position to the ruling DMK. Amid reports that he has a uniquely brazen leadership style that has affronted some seniors and old-timers, Annamalai has managed to draw the party towards the central political narrative in Tamil Nadu. Partly, the AIADMK’s significantly weakened political presence since its loss in the May 2021 Assembly polls is also the reason.

While being present in the Assembly sessions and speaking out on important issues, the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam combination has not projected an active opposition force against the DMK, leading to Annamalai’s BJP taking a toehold in the politics.

In the coming months, what remains to be seen is AIADMK’s moves to keep itself relevant in the current political system increasingly veering to a DMK-BJP bipolarity in one of the few states left with purely regional political contests.

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