AIADMK Minister lashes out at TN BJP leader: Is the dynamic changing between allies?

The AIADMK you see today, is more confident than the party which was in power 6-7 months," said senior journalist Bharath.
AIADMK Minister lashes out at TN BJP leader: Is the dynamic changing between allies?
AIADMK Minister lashes out at TN BJP leader: Is the dynamic changing between allies?

It is no secret that the ties between the Congress and DMK in the state are hanging precariously by a thread. But on Tuesday, it became apparent that all is not well within the ruling party's alliance as well. In a surprising personal attack, AIADMK Minister D Jayakumar took on former Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan of the BJP after the latter alleged that Tamil Nadu has been a training ground for terrorists since former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's period. 

His comments came after the murder of Special Sub-Inspector Wilson by two terror suspect in Kanyakumari district on January 8. The former Minister alleged that Tamil Nadu had become a 'terrorist hub'. 

And when asked for a response to this, an angry Fisheries Minister lashed out at the BJP leader. 

"When Pon Radhakrishnan was the Union Minister, he did not come up with any major projects for Tamil Nadu. He did nothing. It was the AIADMK that is getting Central funds and the schemes. After sitting idle for months, the former minister is now venting out his anger against the AIADMK for no reason. I suspect that Radhakrishnan is dejected over on not being appointed as the state BJP President," alleged Jayakumar. "His anger is unnecessarily aimed at the AIADMK and his behaviour has not changed since the days of Amma (Jayalalithaa),” he added.   

But this is not the first time that the BJP leader has made such a comment. In May 2018, Pon Radhakrishnan said, "Terrorists have entered Tamil Nadu...They don't want any development in Tamil Nadu. I have been saying this for one year. Now the Chief Minister is saying terrorists have entered. This should have been nipped in the bud."

And to this, a solemn Jayakumar had offered a feeble defense.  

He had then said, "As far as terrorists are concerned they should be kept away completely. There is no change in that. As much as Amma worked to keep away terrorists, we are also working for a peaceful Tamil Nadu." 

This was a far cry from his latest response questioning Pon Radhakrishnan's leadership. The Minister, on Tuesday, even went on to say that the party will not assume Radhakrishnan's comments to be an official statement from the BJP.

But even as this response raises eyebrows, AIADMK sources tell TNM that Jayakumar's harsh statement and contempt is reserved only for local BJP leaders.

"The problem is that the local leaders seem to think they can say anything and get away with it," explained a source in the AIADMK. Further statements from the BJP in the last week, including its claim that the saffron party would have won more seats without an alliance with the AIADMK in the rural local body polls, have not gone down well with the Tamil Nadu leadership.

"We would have done better in Lok Sabha elections without this alliance. We are losing out on votes because of them and they are talking like this," said the AIADMK source. However, he admitted that this attitude from the AIADMK would not be seen if a national BJP leader had said the same. "Our response would not have been the same. As of now, our relationship with the Centre is smooth. Minister Piyush Goyal is in touch with both Velumani and Thangamani in the cabinet. An alliance for 2021 too seems definite," he added.

But the AIADMK's confidence to retaliate to Pon Radhakrishnan, also stems from its recent electoral victories and the prospect of contesting in the upcoming urban local body polls.

Political analyst and senior journalist Bharath said, "Currently the AIADMK hold a majority in the Assembly by itself. The AIADMK you see today, is more confident than the party which was in power six to seven months. The win in the bye-polls has made its need to pander to every whim of the BJP much lesser. And the fact that the BJP is yet to even select a leader in Tamil Nadu and establish support, means that they are in no way going to topple their ally using corruption cases against them. Till 2021 atl east, the AIADMK is safe."

Moreover, the upcoming local body polls are playing a huge role in the attitude towards the BJP.

"Before the BJP demands too many seats, the AIADMK wants to make them uncomfortable and prove that they have no voter base in Tamil Nadu. They would even want to contest alone, if that is possible," said Bharath. "By forcing them to contest alone they can show their numbers and make sure that in the 2021 elections, they don't have to give too mays seats to the BJP," he added.

When TNM spoke to the BJP about the AIADMK's respones, a source in the party's state unit admitted that with no President at the helm of affairs, the party was weakened.

"We cannot even say that Ponnar's comment is what the BJP stands for because we don't have a leader," he said. "Yes, he is a tall leader here but without any backing from the Centre or validation his statement has no serious connotation."

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