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Political parties in Tamil Nadu including the DMK, AIADMK and BJP have started preparations for the next Parliament elections which are more than a year away. Even before the end of 2023 the parties are speaking about forming booth committees, electoral alliances and who would lead the alliance.
State BJP president K Annamalai convened a meeting of district presidents and State functionaries on December 8, immediately after the announcement of Gujarat Assembly election results. The meeting followed a national-level meeting of the party functionaries held in Delhi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and national president JP Nadda and was attended by all the State BJP leaders and national-level functionaries.
The Chennai meeting discussed the party’s alliance options and the preparations at the booth level, with Annamalai also announcing a padayatra from April 2023 — which will be an election campaign and show of strength by the saffron party.
The BJP is planning to unite former Chief Ministers Edappadi K Palaniswami, O Panneerselvam, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader TTV Dhinakaran and former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide K Sasikala and form an alliance with them. But, Palaniswami has not accepted the arrangement and is prepared to snap ties with the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections if the saffron party insists on party unity.
Chief Minister and DMK president MK Stalin convened a meeting of district secretaries in December to chalk out his party’s strategy for the Lok Sabha elections. Stalin who asserted that the DMK alliance would sweep Tamil Nadu also asked his party leaders not to worry about alliance issues and start preparing for the Parliament polls.
The BJP is planning to unite former Chief Ministers Edappadi K Palaniswami, O Panneerselvam, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader TTV Dhinakaran and former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide K Sasikala and form an alliance with them
The party had gathered together a strong alliance in the 2019 polls and the leaders of all those parties were present along with the chief minister at the meeting held to celebrate the 90th birthday of Dravidar Kazhagam president K Veeramani. All the leaders vowed to support the DMK in the next Parliament elections to dislodge the BJP government at the Centre, making it clear that they want the alliance to continue.
Principal Opposition leader Palaniswami held a protest at Coimbatore where leaders of the AIADMK declared that their party would win all 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Though the party is speaking of forming a mega alliance for the Parliament elections, it has not revealed its strategy. With most DMK allies continuing to stand with the ruling party, the AIADMK’s options are limited.
At the moment, the party symbol ‘Two Leaves’ cannot be used by AIADMK leaders, as the Election Commission of India has not decided on whether Palaniswami or Panneerselvam should be recognised as the party leader. As the Election Commission is not showing any signs of giving a verdict soon on the symbol, Palaniswami, who is fighting a case in the Supreme Court over the party leadership, has sought for the dispute to be resolved at the earliest.
If the symbol is frozen or given to Panneerselvam, the AIADMK headed by Palaniswami needs sufficient time to obtain a new symbol and popularise it before the elections. If the Supreme Court asked the Election Commission to give its verdict at the earliest or fixed a particular date for the commission to give its judgment, it would be better for all the AIADMK leaders.
All the leaders of the current alliance led by DMK vowed to support the ruling party in the next Parliament elections to dislodge the BJP government at the Centre
There have been instances of ruling parties at the Centre going for early elections before the scheduled time and this also explains the early poll preparation of parties. In 2004, the Lok Sabha elections were held in April and May, instead of the scheduled time of September along with Assembly polls for four states. In 2023, Assembly elections for Karnataka are due in May while the Assembly elections for Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram should be held before December 10 the same year.
Whether the BJP would go for early elections would depend on the results of the Karnataka Assembly elections and the party’s prospects if the Parliament elections were held along with the Assembly elections in November 2024. In case the Parliament elections are held along with the Assembly elections in north India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi could campaign for both the elections simultaneously and the party could bank on Modi’s popularity to get votes in the Assembly polls too.
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