For the past few months, EPS has been asserting himself as a tall leader of the AIADMK. On the advise of political consultant Sunil Kanugolu, EPS has been enacting quite a drama ahead of 2021 elections. Sometimes as a farmer and other times as a strong leader taking on the BJP. All that image building exercise came down crashing on Saturday as they surrendered the 49 year old AIADMK to Amit Shah in a government event.
Many eyebrows were raised when TN Deputy Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam announced that the alliance of AIADMK will continue with BJP for the ensuing 2021 assembly polls that too in a government function in which Union Home Minister Amit Shah was the Chief Guest. Following his announcement, CM Edappadi Palanisamy also endorsed it. Even most of the AIADMK’s senior leaders were not aware about the developments and were in for a shock. Just hours before the event, AIADMK senior leaders were seen giving interviews to the media saying ‘there will be no alliance talks today’.
The grand gala reception given to Mr. Shah was not usual. He is neither the Prime Minister nor premier of a foreign country to be awarded such a grand reception. Shah’s visit to Tamil Nadu after becoming Home Minister is not new and he had earlier visited the state in August 2019 for a book release function. At the time of his visit, there was no such grand reception. But, as state elections are nearing, the reception and the announcement on alliance seven months ahead of the elections has set tongues wagging.
Normally, both DMK & AIADMK follows a pattern of making announcements about electoral alliances. The party’s high level committee or Executive Committee will convene and delegate the powers of forming alliances to their respective leaders. Though the AIADMK has High Level Committee, Executive Committee and the newly formed Steering Committee, both OPS and EPS chose a government function to announce the alliance without consulting any of the committees.
Though there is speculation that the announcement was made impromptu by both EPS & OPS, sources say the surprise alliance announcement was planned well ahead of Amit Shah’s visit to TN. Even as Chief Minister EPS is trying hard to create an impression that he won’t succumb to BJP’s pressure, he has no options but to go with the BJP. The problems of Edappadi Palanisamy are multifold.
The release of Jayalalitha’s former aide who is incarcerated in the Bengaluru Prison by the end of January is imminent. She along with her niece TTV Dinakaran may throw a challenge to EPS’s leadership. If EPS fails to toe the line of BJP, the BJP may back the TTV faction which would cause trouble for Edappadi’s leadership.
Apart from Edappadi Palanisamy, most of his cabinet colleagues are facing corruption charges. The RK Nagar voter bribery case is also now in cold storage. All these cases may be reopened anytime.
The options before Edappadi Palanisamy are ‘fall in line’ or ‘face music’.
If he chooses to ditch BJP and go it alone with the remaining alliance partners, there is every possibility that the BJP unleashes its grey hounds – ED, IT, CBI, DRI and NIA. If he decides to stick with the BJP, there is no imminent threat to him either from BJP or its greyhounds.
In case if he allies with the BJP and loses the polls, the DMK, for its part may unleash the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) as the DMK did in 1996. However, if Edappadi Palanisamy sticks with BJP, he will have the backing of the central government which can step in and contain the damage.
To recall history, in June 2001, former DMK Chief Kalaignar Karunanidhi was arrested in a midnight operation. He was manhandled and it created huge havoc. The then Union Ministers TR Balu, Murasoli Maran who tried to intervene were also manhandled.
DMK was then in alliance with the BJP in the center. DMK immediately took it up with the center and the then BJP government ordered the immediate transfer of then Commissioner of Police K.Muthukaruppan, IPS, S.George IPS and Christopher Nelson IPS to central postings. This made Jayalalitha to pause and take stock of the situation. The three officers managed to get their transfer orders stayed by the Central Administrative Tribunal. Kalaignar was released immediately and the
DMK resisted the onslaught with help of central government.
After 2001 much water has flown under the bridge and the powers of the state were corroded by the subsequent central governments over a period of time.
Coming to the present, after the Shiva Sena government was sworn in, based on the request of NCP Chief Sharad Pawar, the case of Bhima Koreagon violence was reviewed by the Home Ministry of Maharashtra government. Several activists including Sudha Bharadwaj, Anand Teltumbde, Varavara Rao were arrested on flimsy charges. But the BJP swung into action and transferred the investigation to NIA, which has sweeping powers to take over any investigation under the guise of ‘terrorism’ even without the concurrence of the state government.
The BJP can and will take over even corruption charges against Edappadi Palanisamy or any other AIADMK ministers under the ‘terrorism angle’.
This made both EPS and OPS agree to BJP’s “Operation Spine”.
Following the announcement of alliance with BJP by both OPS and EPS, they had marathon meetings with Amit Shah. There was a one-to-one meeting of Amit Shah with Sunil Kanugolu, AIADMK’s election strategist followed by meeting with EPS, Sunil and Amit Shah. There was a third round of meeting with EPS, OPS, Sunil and Amit Shah. Sunil acted as an interpreter in these meetings and he also explained the strategies for the AIADMK-BJP alliance, and the research conducted so far.
Sources say, Amit Shah who is already aware of what EPS is planning in terms to becoming a ‘strong’ leader was not impressed and told them point blank “We will take care”. Amit Shah literally informed EPS & OPS that he will handle the election strategies for 2021 in Tamil Nadu which in other words mean, he will also handle AIADMK’s election strategy.
Followed by this meeting there was a formal meeting with more than 200 members of the BJP including actresses who had joined BJP recently. During this meet, actress Gowthami was nominated to speak. She suggested that BJP should start its own TV channel to develop the party. She also said, BJP should fully make use of the celebrities to make the party grow in the state.
An unimpressed Amit Shah, in his remarks following the meet, snubbed Gowthami by saying that BJP is a party of hardworking cadres and it doesn’t need any star power to grow.
A few district presidents were also asked to express their views and some of them said that ‘AIADMK is against BJP’ and they don’t want an alliance. Amit Shah neither intervened nor stopped them and during his reply he said that ‘alliance issues’ will be taken care by the party leadership and asked carders to work on the ground.
Subsequent to this, Amit Shah conducted a brain storming session with BJP core committee members in which the following were participants. BL.Santhosh, CT Ravi, Annamalai, Pon Radhkrishnan, L.Murugan, S.Gurumurthy, Srinivasan (Son of Gurumurthy), P.Sudhakar Reddy, Ela.Ganesan, VP. Duraisamy, KT.Raghavan, Karu Nagarajan and TN BJP’s Organising Secretary Kesava Vinayagam.
In this meeting a dossier was presented to Amit Shah categorising the entire 234 constituencies in Tamil Nadu as A, B and C. Category A are constituencies where the BJP has high rate of success. Category B are constituencies where the BJP will have moderate rate of success with the help of alliance party. Category C are constituencies where the BJP has Zero rate of success.
After carefully going through the dossier, Amit Shah posed several questions to the core committee members as to what are the caste arithmetic in the constituency, strength of local leaders, etc. which none of the core committee members were able to answer. A furious Amit Shah threw away the dossier and shouted at the members for their lack of knowledge in election work. He chided them that they are not interested in putting any hard work for the party.
He also shot down the suggestion by a member of the core committee that BJP should go alone in 2021 polls. When a few members made suggestion that all office bearers of the BJP should contest in their respective districts, Amit Shah chastised them by saying, “None of you are qualified to contest in the election”.
Amit Shah further said, conduct of ‘Vel Yatra’ and creating ruckus in the state will in no way help the party to grow in the state and only ground work from booth-level will help the party. His final words were, “I will take care of the alliance, seat sharing and other things. Your job is to work at booth-level and strengthen the party. The party which had 0.3 % vote share in states like Tripura has grown to the level of ruling the state. This happened only with sheer hard work and not by Vel Yatra or celebrity power”.
Subsequently Tuqlaq Editor Gurumurthy had a one-on-one meet with Amit Shah where he narrated how the ‘Vel Yatra’ conducted by the BJP is backfiring and any small violence will portray the party in a very bad light. During this meeting, Gurumurthy informed Amit Shah that Super Star Rajinikanth will never come out until a vaccine / medicine for Covid is found and that he had categorically expressed his inability to support the party. Gurumurthy who had two rounds of discussion with Superstar Rajinikanth informed Amit Shah that Rajini did not commit on anything including extending his support to the BJP. A quite disappointed Gurumurthy left the Leela Palace hotel at 3 am.
A highly placed source in RSS, on condition of anonymity had this to say. “Amit Shah views Tamil Nadu as a very important state for the 2024 polls. In the 2024 polls, Modi / BJP will be fighting a double anti-incumbency across the country. Many states which overwhelmingly voted for Modi in 2014 and 2019 may not vote in the same manner. So Amit Shah views states like AP, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, to aide them in 2024.
Amit Shah has set his eyes on Tamil Nadu and he will personally handle the alliance and all election related issues personally. His visit on 21st November is just to get a first hand understanding of what’s happening in the state.”
The source added, “with regard to MK. Alagiri, as some media outlets have reported, he is not reluctant to join hands with the BJP but he is the trump card of BJP to be used just ahead of elections. Alagiri is sure to start Kalaingar DMK and join hands with BJP which would be a shocker to DMK family.”
BJP’s game plan for 2021 polls is to demoralise and disintegrate DMK. He will use all tricks in the books to ensure that DMK doesn’t come back to power. This includes usage of BJP’s greyhounds ED, CBI and IT to the fullest extent.
Tamil Nadu is going to witness several surprises in the coming days and what is no longer a surprise is that AIADMK is literally controlled by the BJP.
Amit Shah’s visit has just confirmed the same and all efforts by EPS to portray him as a strong leader has turned out to be a cruel joke on AIADMK party workers.