Annamalai is not ready to change: How he has sparked a fresh conflict in the BJP-ADMK alliance?

A day after veteran BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah set a political target in Tamil Nadu for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the state BJP chief Annamalai has resumed his job of courting controversy by taking a jibe at the ally ADMK, with which the saffron party is setting its political course in Tamil Nadu. Annamalai's incessant attack on ADMK has now come to the stage that the alliance will get perished ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. 

Despite his contentious tenure as the BJP chief of Tamil Nadu's unit, Annamalai has had a backing from the party's central leadership. Annamalai has been hard on ADMK in recent times and he apparently declared that he will step down from his post if the BJP allies with ADMK in the Lok Sabha polls. He also has been attacking the ADMK, which is the prime opposition party in Tamil Nadu, to spearhead his propaganda that BJP is the main opposition party taking on the ruling DMK. 

While Annamalai's remarks have sparked outcry within the party, his arbitrary political show and remarks weren't curbed by the central leadership, which was a strong reason why he has resumed his job of attacking the ADMK, a day after Amit Shah visited Tamil Nadu. While addressing a political event in Tamil Nadu on Sunday, Amit Shah has set target of triumphing 25 Lok Sabha seats out of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu in the upcoming general elections. 

In Tamil Nadu, BJP is part of ADMK's alliance, but, the coalition is witnessing a collision, thanks to Annamalai who has shown that he won't change through his latest attack against ADMK. Several political observers say that Annamalai isn't realizing that his drive of leading BJP to a strong victory in the 2024 polls would be a mirage in Tamil Nadu. He has been apparently exhibiting his ADMK-phobia that would lead to end of the alliance and it will be an uphill battle for BJP if the party goes by the wishes of Annamalai to contest the polls independently in Tamil Nadu. 

Though Annamalai was strongly criticized for his lack of political leadership, he is in no way refraining from attacking ADMK at a high time when the party was in the need to seal an alliance with ADMK to maintain its political base in the state. While BJP has endured a big debacle in its stronghold Karnataka recently, Amit Shah's target from Tamil Nadu appears to be unrealistic even if the party contests in the ADMK alliance. However, as Annamalai has now been setting his own political course against ADMK, it is becoming obvious that the BJP will neither accomplish its target nor its efforts would bear fruit. 

What's behind the current conflict? 

In an interview to an English daily that was published on Monday, Annamalai, without naming the party or a leader, had indirectly attacked ADMK by stating that Tamil Nadu is one of the most corrupt states where former chief ministers have been convicted. When his statement sparked heatwaves across the state, it was certain that he referred to former ADMK's supremo J Jayalalithaa, who was convicted in the Disproportionate Assets Case. 

Reacting to Annamalai's controversial remarks, the top ADMK leaders have trained their guns on Annamalai as they have been staunching attacking the BJP leader. By accusing Annamalai of creating confusion in alliance, the ADMK had warned him to hold his tongue or else it would consider its alliance with the BJP. Senior ADMK leader D Jayakumar had sought to know if the central BJP leaders in Delhi had approved his remarks.

While addressing the reporters in Chennai, Jayakumar asked, "Is it Annamalai's intention to see that the ADMK- BJP alliance does not win in the 2024 Lok Sabha election and that Narendra Modi should not become Prime Minister again? Aren't his activities oriented in this direction?". By citing that Annamalai's criticism is unacceptable, Jayakumar asked why Annamalai, who is fond of talking about corruption, is silent on corruption allegations involving the BJP in Karnataka."

"Did the BJP win in Karnataka despite his election campaign in that state? Why doesn't he talk about the corruption allegations in Karnataka during the assembly election?", Jayakumar further asked. Highlighting that the BJP is nothing on its own in Tamil Nadu, Jayakumar said that ADMK's strong presence in the state endured BJP's victory in the 2021 state assembly polls - the saffron party has won only four seats in the assembly polls. 

Jayakumar further said, "After a gap of twenty years, the BJP made an entry into the state assembly with four MLAs today because of the ADMK. Will Annamalai deny this? The BJP will get an identity only when if remains in the ADMK alliance."  "Annamalai should hold his tongue and follow alliance dharma and ADMK would be forced to rethink its alliance with the BJP if Annamalai continued to needlessly criticize the party and if the BJP central leadership didn't restrain an immature Annamalai." 

Responding to a question of whether ADMK wants a change in the BJP state leadership, Jayakumar said, "That's not our demand. We want him to be restrianed. Remember the ADMK is like a huge banyan tree and the BJP only a plant." Jayakumar further said, "When the ADMK is upholding the alliance dharma and Annamalai is going against it, the alliance becomes questionable. So Amit Shah and JP Nadda have to answer. The loss is not ours, Delhi also knows that." Besides Jayakumar, several ADMK leaders have slammed Annamalai for being DMK's B team.