Weeks after sealing its ‘mega alliance’ with the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, the BJP is ironing out differences on where its leaders would contest from. While it has been agreed upon that the BJP would contest from five constituencies in Tamil Nadu under the AIADMK alliance, talks between the two parties have reportedly reached a stalemate over the North Chennai constituency. The national party has refused to accept the offer to contest from North Chennai since it reportedly considers its chances of winning as meagre.
AIADMK sources tell TNM that the party has become wary of North Chennai following the party’s embarrassing debacle in the RK Nagar Assembly bye-elections in December 2017. It may be recalled that the bye-polls, necessitated by the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa saw TTV Dhinakaran storming to power embarrassing the ruling party in the state as well as the opposition (the DMK) which lost its deposit. The AIADMK doesn’t want a repeat of RK Nagar which is housed in the larger North Chennai area. While it has tried to push North Chennai off to the BJP in an attempt to hedge its bets, the national party, it appears, doesn’t want it at all.
According to sources in the AIADMK, in addition to North Chennai, the party has offered the BJP Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Sivaganga and Thoothukudi. With 39 parliamentary constituencies up for grabs in Tamil Nadu (and one in Union Territory Puducherry), the BJP is hoping to make a mark in a state where its vote-share is less than 3 percent. BJP state chief Tamilisai Soundararajan and National Secretary H Raja are expected to contest in the Lok Sabha polls. While Tamilisai is likely to face-off with DMK MP Kanimozhi in Thoothukudi, H Raja is expected to once again battle Congress’ businessman-politician Karti Chidambaram in Sivaganga. Both Raja and Karti Chidambaram had lost to the AIADMK in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan, who is also the current Member of Parliament from Kanyakumari, is likely to repeat his contest from the seat. Meanwhile, BJP veteran and former State President of the BJP in Tamil Nadu CP Radhakrishnan is reportedly looking to contest once again from the Kongu belt. Radhakrishnan, who lost to AIADMK’s P Nagarajan in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, had previously won the Coimbatore parliamentary constituency in 1998.