The AIADMK in the state is refusing to let go off constituencies it considers to be its strong suit while the BJP seeks to field its state-level faces in the Kongu belt.

Tirunelveli to South Chennai Key seats BJP is eyeing in talks with AIADMKFile image/ PTI
news Politics Thursday, February 07, 2019 - 14:49

After many rounds of talks and some dissent, the AIADMK- BJP alliance is all set to be formally announced soon. As per the latest developments, the BJP has asked for key constituencies in the state, in AIADMK bastions no less, even as the two parties are cobbling together a “winning alliance”.

Multiple meetings between the BJP’s point person for the state-- Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and influential AIADMK Ministers SP Velumani and P Thangamani-- have seen the national party demand South Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Tirunelveli, Vellore, Madurai and Sivagangai Lok Sabha constituencies in addition to the existing BJP Lok Sabha seat of Kanyakumari.

AIADMK and BJP sources confirmed the seat-sharing developments to TNM, noting, however, that the process has not been smooth. “The BJP perceives itself to be strong in areas where we have already established a base over the years. This overlap is a cause for concern,” says an AIADMK leader.

Adding more fodder for disagreement are the candidates the BJP is looking to field. For example, BJP State President Tamilisai Soundararajan is looking to contest in South Chennai, largely known for its upper caste population, H Raja’s name too has popped up for the same constituency. The current Member of Parliament from the constituency is Dr Jayavardhan Jayakumar, son of senior AIADMK leader and Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar. “Jayavardhan won by a margin of more than 1 lakh votes. At just 27 years of age, he had defeated two big names in 2014-- then sitting MP TKS Elangovan and the BJP's former TN chief L Ganesan. It is a forward caste constituency and Tamilisai, who is from the Nadar community, is simply not popular for that demographic,” the AIADMK source said.

Similarly, the Coimbatore constituency has also come to be a point of contention for the two parties. Current MP P Nagarajan, had defeated the BJP’s CP Radhakrishnan with a margin of over 40,000 votes in 2014. An ex-MP from Coimbatore in 1998 and 1999 and former State President of the BJP in Tamil Nadu, the party is looking to field Radhakrishnan again in the heart of the Kongu belt, a region the party believes it has made inroads into. “The BJP should understand that we know the state better. We also need to try and understand that even smaller parties like PMK, DMDK and Puthiya Tamilagam will canvas for a candidate who they see as amenable,” says another AIADMK leader.

The controversial BJP National Secretary H Raja is seeking a party ticket from either Madurai or Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituencies. While Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan wants to re-contest from his seat in Kanyakumari, party-hopping politician Nainar Nagendran wants to be fielded from Tirunelveli. Nagendran, who had left the AIADMK in 2017 with ensuing faction wars in the party in the aftermath of the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, had previously been elected to the state assembly twice from Tirunelveli. Meanwhile General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Tamil Nadu, Vanathi Srinivasan, who is originally from Coimbatore is seeking the party’s ticket from Tiruppur in the Kongu region.

Of the 8 seats the BJP is likely to get, the national party has sought a ticket for industrialist AC Shanmugam of the Puthiya Neethi Katchi in the influential Mudaliar belt in Vellore. Devanathan Yadav, the founder of Indhiya Makkal Kalvi Munnetra Kazhagam is also in talks for contesting on the lotus symbol. The other name doing the rounds is of Pariventhar Pachamuthu, from the Indhiya Jananayaka Katchi, who wants to contest on lotus symbol from Dindugal or Erode.

TNM had reported earlier that BJP had kept up the pressure against the ruling party in the state, in order to publicly force AIADMK leaders into confronting the seat-sharing agreement that had made many within the party wary of the national party that is largely unpopular in Tamil Nadu. While internal surveys and opinion polls conducted by the AIADMK campaign reportedly reveal grim fortunes for the party, sources within the AIADMK say that they are banking on help from the likes of Dr Ramadoss' PMK, 'Captain' Vijayakanth's DMDK and Dr Krishnaswamy's Puthiya Thamilagam to help put up a fight.

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