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Battleground Tamil Nadu: Sasikala factor and challenges for ruling AIADMK

After the fall of the Congress government in Puducherry, the latest buzz is that even though the BJP denied staking a claim to form government in the Union Territory, the Congress is crying foul accusing the NR Congress and the BJP of bringing down its government by plotting defections.

Om Tiwari Om Tiwari
New Delhi Updated on: February 25, 2021 21:22 IST
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami (L) along
Image Source : PTI

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami (L) along with Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam.

The political churn in Puducherry speaks volumes of southern India taking centre stage in the wake of assembly elections in the region. And, out of its four districts, two being the enclaves of Tamil Nadu and one falling in the territory of Kerala, political activities in Puducherry are bound to have a bearing on both states going to polls in April-May.

After the fall of the Congress government in Puducherry, the latest buzz is that even though the BJP denied staking a claim to form government in the Union Territory, the Congress is crying foul accusing the NR Congress and the BJP of bringing down its government by plotting defections.

Now the question is how this political turmoil will impact Tamil Nadu? Will its powerplay in Puducherry help the BJP raise its stake in Tamil Nadu? The state elections may appear a pitched battle between the ruling AIADMK and the opposition DMK, but there are various factors at work which can potentially swing the mood of the voters.

Ahead of the assembly elections, the ruling AIADMK is fighting a three-front battle in Tamil Nadu: anti-incumbency against the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam government, the constant offensive of the opposition and the growing rumble in the party after the arrival of Sasikala.

Can BJP help AIADMK tide over the crisis?

AIADMK has joined hands with the BJP stitching a pre-poll alliance to counter these forces. Primarily, late Jayalalithaa aide Sasikala, who still holds sway over the people and party leaders. And the fight for Amma's legacy is expected to intensify after her birth anniversary on 24 February, even though the AIADMK top leadership had expelled Chinnamma and her nephew Dhinakaran from the party in 2017.

After serving a jail term, Sasikala cannot contest elections for the next six years, but that doesn't stop her from regaining control over the party, even though EPS-OPS have blocked her re-entry amending the constitution of the AIADMK.

When his aunt was in the prison, Dhinakaran floated a separate party, AMMK, before the 2019 General Elections and failed miserably. So this time around Sasikala will leave no stone unturned in reclaiming the AIADMK. She made her intent clear the day she left the Bengaluru jail for Tamil Nadu with an AIADMK flag on her car.

If the tussle to hold the reins of the party comes out in open and is dragged into the elections, Sasikala can damage the prospect of EPS-OPS' return to power. Though it cannot be denied that the voters may choose the DMK alliance despite the AIADMK factions calling a truce before the polls.

So far, the BJP has played a crucial role in keeping the EPS-OPS blocs together ensuring the continuation of the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu. Now, all eyes are on the saffron party if it can use its influence on the warring groups to find a middle ground again and stop the DMK.

Once the leadership issue is settled and the claim to Jayalalithaa's legacy is ensured, the AIADMK can seek votes from the people on the development work done in the last five years. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been launching several projects in Tamil Nadu in the run-up to the elections to woo the people and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has already announced projects over Rs 1 lakh crore for the state in the Union Budget.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV. The author can be reached on Twitter @iamomtiwari)

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