Dravidian parties are warring over the ‘shame’ of smiling at Modi

DMK and AIADMK leaders in Tamil Nadu have been brandishing pictures of each other with the Prime Minister, accusing them of laughing and smiling with Modi, and therefore being in an ‘unholy nexus’ with the BJP.
Dravidian parties are warring over the ‘shame’ of smiling at Modi
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For many politicians in Tamil Nadu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one politician they would rather not be seen with at the moment. With the campaigns for the Lok Sabha elections underway, politicians of both Dravidian parties have been brandishing pictures of their rivals with the Prime Minister, accusing each other of laughing and smiling with Modi, and therefore being in an ‘unholy nexus’ with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

The war of photographs between the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) began on March 25, two days after DMK minister Udhayanidhi Stalin dramatically brought a single brick to his Virudhanagar campaign — a repeat of his hit 2021 election tactic to highlight the delay in building an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in Madurai’s Thoppur. Udhay claimed during his campaign at Thirumangalam in Virudhunagar that he was ‘bringing the Madurai AIIMS hospital along with him,’ the obvious insinuation being that the prestigious project of the former AIADMK-BJP alliance hasn’t seen fruition beyond the foundation stone. The brick had the word ‘AIIMS’ written on it in bold white letters.

Leader of Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) responded the next day by mocking the DMK minister for “resorting to the brick” again, asking him to “change the script” at least this time. Besides, why didn’t DMK’s Members of Parliament raise the issue at the Parliament, the AIADMK leader questioned.

So on March 25, while campaigning in Kanchipuram, Udhay dropped the brick and took out pictures of EPS, seen sporting a wide grin as he shared a stage with Modi. The photos were from 2019, when the AIADMK and BJP were still in alliance in Tamil Nadu, and Modi had arrived in Madurai to lay the foundation stone for AIIMS. “Palaniswami said I picked up the brick again and asked me to ‘change the script’. But I'm not the one who changes the script as per political convenience. In fact, I was just showing people the stone that was laid at AIIMS, but look at this person showing his teeth (to Modi),” he said.

The AIADMK had ended their alliance with BJP in September 2023.

“Why should I change my script and ideology?” asked Udhay. “We want AIIMS and we demand exemption from the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET).”

In a tit-for-tat on March 26, EPS displayed two photographs of both Chief Minister MK Stalin and Udhay, in which the father-son duo can be seen laughing with Modi on different occasions. “Stalin is not one to smile, but he smiles before Modi,” he alleged, proceeding to point to Udhay’s photo and question if this wasn’t the same person who criticised him for laughing before the PM. “It is fine if he laughs before the PM, but it’s wrong if I do it?” he further questioned, during his campaign in Thoothukudi. 

“So who was in a secret alliance with the BJP? Was it DMK or AIADMK? Was it Edappadi or Stalin? This is the evidence of their kalla koottani (secret alliance). See how they are posing for photographs,” EPS alleged, adding that if AIADMK wanted an alliance with BJP, they could have easily opted for it. “But we decided not to. We are not hungry for power like the DMK, and we have no reason to secretly support any party,” he said.


The photo war, however, was not to end there, as Udhayanidhi next brought out a picture of EPS prostrating before V K Sasikala, back when she was an interim general secretary of the AIADMK after the demise of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. The DMK leader challenged EPS to show a picture of him falling at someone’s feet. “If you find such a photo, I will quit politics,” Udhay said.

Tamil Nadu is headed to vote in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 19, while the results for the entire nation will come on June 4. The elections are to be held in seven phases across India. 

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