Was the AIADMK merger orchestrated by the BJP?
AIADMK's months-long internal feud that ensued following Jayalalithaa's death ended yesterday with the O Panneerselvam (OPS) and Edapaddi Palanisami (EPS) factions joining hands. BJP had taken special interest in the ongoings; PM Narendra Modi had even held meetings with both. Both voting for the NDA candidate in the presidential election was a decisive development. What role did the BJP exactly play in the merger?
BJP has no footprint in TN; this could be its chance to make inroads in the southern state, even if in the background. In a state dominated by DMK and AIADMK, it could be BJP's big win. After JD(U) in Bihar, the AIADMK maybe the next entry in the NDA kitty: the buzz is they will get two cabinet berths and one MoS profile.
Meanwhile, TN's other party (DMK) is suffering a leadership crisis; BJP's would-be alliance with AIADMK could be a calculated step. DMK patriarch Karunanidhi refuses to renounce power. Thus, at 63, son Stalin is the oldest youth leader. Stalin faces opposition from M.K. Azhagiri (Karunanidhi's other son with a strong support base in Madurai) and Kanimozhi (his half-sister, relegated to the Rajya Sabha).
After the merger, general secretary VK Sasikala faces expulsion; however, her nephew TTV Dhinakaran claims the backing of 19 MLAs, who will withdraw support to the government if things go against them. This also gives rise to two centres of power: OPS heading AIADMK and EPS the government. It could run smoothly, or could backfire for BJP, which will have to balance the two.
This alliance with AIADMK assists in conquering the south; BJP opened its account in Kerala Assembly in 2016, has an ally (TDP) in power in Andhra Pradesh, and may win on the Modi wave in Karnataka under Yeddyurappa's leadership.