The BJP is working overtime to stitch a pre-poll alliance with the DMK for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as it is convinced that a tie-up with the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu may not yield the desired results. PM Narendra Modi’ s re-election plan may hinge on getting at least 30 seats from Tamil Nadu. With intelligence reports pointing out the poor popularity ratings of the AIADMK, the BJP is doing a re-think on ties with this party.
The national party is trying to use every opportunity to get closer to the DMK. Karunanidhi, who had been indisposed for the last two years, has had visitors right from the PM and President of the country, Union Ministers and chief ministers of the party, to party functionaries of Tamil Nadu and outside. Even after the funeral of Karunanidhi, the BJP is all out to leverage the Vajpayee funeral and ashes immersion ceremonies to the maximum in a reach-out to the DMK.
In a rare departure, DMK working president M K Stalin and his sister Kanimozhi, MP, visited the BJP headquarters in Chennai to pay homage to the memory of A B Vajpayee when his ashes were kept there.
Stalin, Kanimozhi and Dayanidhi Maran from the family of Karunanidhi paid their last respects to Vajpayee in Delhi.
DMK sources dismiss talk of a coming together of the two parties
These photo-ops have created a buzz and whispers in the political corridors of the two parties of the two parties coming closer both at the national level and in the State.
DMK sources dismiss talk of a coming together of the two parties as wild speculation and maintain that the DMK already has the Congress, VCK, IUML, MMK in its alliance, and is looking to expand this non-BJP front with the inclusion of the Left and the MDMK. This alliance would be a formidable one for the Lok Sabha elections, and could take on even a tie-up of AIADMK-BJP.
The BJP needs a positive signal from actor Rajinikanth of his party joining this combine, as also the return of parties like the DMDM and PMK to its fold, if an alliance with the AIADMK should be successful. In the absence of these other parties, the BJP-AIADMK alliance may struggle to win seats.
It is this calculation that has forced Modi and the BJP to shed its anti-DMK stance, and overlook its ideological views and the Hindutva card to seek votes and seats from Tamil Nadu.
Even if the BJP were to be accused of sheer opportunism in trying to have ties with the DMK, its leaders feel that nothing succeeds like success.
The BJP’s national leaders are aware that several family members of Karunanidhi are facing various corruption charges including Kanimozhi in the 2G case, Dayanidhi and Kalanidhi Maran in the BSNL telephone exchange case and the AIRCEL-Maxis acquisition. There is talk that some members of the Karunanidhi family who are more keen on protecting their assets and belongings feel that a tie-up with the BJP may provide them a safety net. BJP leaders could dangle the carrot and stick approach to woo the DMK.
What can additionally work for the BJP is if it helps to upset the AIADMK apple-cart and assist the collapse of the AIADMK government. If the BJP stops propping up the tottering AIADMK, and helps the DMK form the government sooner than later in the State, that could be a clincher for a BJP-DMK alliance.
However, this approach could be full of pitfalls, and a slip, especially in the public glare, could cost the party very heavily, argue sources in the state BJP. These functionaries feel a bird in hand is worth two in the bush. It may be suicidal to ruin a good relationship with the AIADMK which could be of immense use to the party and the government at the Centre for the sake of an ally like the DMK which could break any ties with the BJP on the ground of secularism as in 2004 after having been partners in the NDA government at the Centre from 1999.
These conflicting opinions have left the BJP leadership confused. At the moment, it is trying to ride both horses at the same time, and will decide on its poll partner at the time of the Lok Sabha polls, depending on which way the wind blows.