BJP vs ADMK: How the friends turned into foes and is the alliance coming to an end?

In what has become an unanticipated twist in the tale, ADMK leader Jayakumar, who is widely known as a mouthpiece of the party's general secretary Edappadi Palaniswami, has on Monday - September 18 declared that the ADMK-BJP alliance comes to an end. In a press meet amidst the shocking turn of events within both the parties, Jayakumar appeared to be conveying a message from the party's leadership that the alliance becomes extinct. 

The alliance between ADMK and BJP moved in the same circles for the past few years and the parties contested in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, 2021 assembly polls, and the local body polls. The lack of strong leadership in the ADMK had not only wounded the party severely but also gave room to the BJP in the state as the saffron party had spread its propaganda that it is the state's opposition party and growing to be the second largest after DMK. 

The BJP's propaganda, led by Tamil Nadu BJP chief Annamalai and backed by a cluster of his followers, had directly targeted ADMK and ADMK leadership's apparent tolerance and soft-hand approach displayed Edappadi Palaniswami's desperate need to have alliance with BJP and to have support from the Modi-led central government to defeat his rivals including O Panneerselvam. It was the BJP that interfered into the tussle in the ADMK and went on to become instrumental in deciding the ADMK's leader. 

BJP's support became vital for Edappadi Palaniswami to run the party, due to which he refrained from directly attacking any anti-ADMK remarks that came from the BJP camp. However, there were cracks in the alliance with the second line leaders of both the parties waged a war of words, but nowhere did ADMK go offensive against the BJP like how it has gone now. 

The war of words between the ADMK and BJP leaders had exposed that the cracks in the alliance have widened and it is in the verge of getting pulled down. It appears that the BJP state chief Annamalai's incessant remarks to tease the ADMK leadership had finally awaken the latter to declare that there is no alliance with the BJP. ADMK leader Jayakumar's comments have come at a high time when the political parties are preparing for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.  

The alliance between ADMK and BJP in Tamil Nadu was in a fashion that both parties need each other to politically survive in the state. For BJP, Tamil Nadu remains elusive for decades and the alliance with ADMK would help the party to score well and for ADMK, the lack of strong face and leadership crisis led to befriend with the BJP. The ADMK-BJP alliance contested in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls for the first time and now, after four years, the parties are turning into foes. 

What led the ADMK and BJP to come close to parting ways? 

Though Jayakumar declared that there is no alliance between ADMK and BJP, he also hinted that the final decision would be taken in time during next year's general elections. What caused a tussle and why the parties are locking horns in a fresh fight now? It was Annamalai's regular remarks against the ADMK and its leadership that made Jayakumar to burst out with a declaration that the alliance is coming to an end. Though Edappadi Palaniswami remains reserved in this matter, it has been reported that Jayakumar had announced the end of the alliance after getting approval from Palaniswami. 

In the past, ADMK had made multiple appeals to the BJP's central high command asking it to urge Annamalai to refrain from attacking and insulting the ADMK leaders. However, Annamalai supercharged his attack on ADMK and didn't stop even after receiving a strong flak from the ADMK leaders. After Annamalai took charge as the state BJP chief, the ADMK-BJP alliance went in deep water as his remarks have sparked a major disruption and divide. 

Earlier this March, Annamalai spoke to the state BJP functionaries during which said that the BJP doesn't want to ally with any Dravidian parties and went on to say that if the party's high command decides to ally with the ADMK in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, he would step down from his post. Even as the ADMK leaders were reacting to his remarks, there were exodus from BJP as several BJP leaders had quit the party and joined the ADMK after accusing Annamalai's leadership. 

As the exodus continued, the supporters of Annamalai had protested against Edappadi Palaniswami and burned down the posters with his picture. Backing the protests against the leader of an allied party, Annamalai opened up about the exodus and said that the Dravidian parties are in a situation that they will get developed only if they welcome BJP cadres and such exodus show how BJP is getting flourished in the state. 

In June, Annamalai targeted the ADMK with a fresh attack as in an interview, he said that a former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was convicted for corruption. Though he didn't put out any name, it was apparent that he referred to former ADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, who was convicted by a Karnataka court in disproportionate assets case. As his remarks went viral, the entire ADMK leaders stormed against Annamalai and even Edappadi Palaniswami had condemned Annamalai's statement as the alliance had a tumultuous turn. 

Condemning Annamalai for his remarks against Jayalalithaa, several ADMK district secretaries had passed resolutions against the state BJP chief to show their protest to the central BJP that Annamalai's statements are upsetting the ADMK and its cadres. However, Annamalai continued his game against ADMK that went in a fashion where Edappadi Palaniswami urged the mediapersons don't ask him about Annamalai and that it was media that's promoting the BJP leader.

Though Annamalai is showcasing his aversion against ADMK, though his supporters burnt down Palaniswami's pictures, and though the ADMK passed resolution against Annamalai, the alliance between both the parties tend to be strong as Palaniswami kept his staunch support for the central ruling BJP regime. The alliance had now got upended and is being skewed in the wake of Annamalai's recent comment against  former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister CN Annadurai, who was an architect of the Dravidian Movement. 

How Annamalai's comments about Annadurai sparked a new war? 

Recently, the Tamil Nadu BJP had organized a protest in Chennai to demand Tamil Nadu's Hindu Religious Minister Sekar Babu to step down for participating in a forum where another DMK Minister Udhayanidhi Stalin spoke against the Sanatan Dharma. BJP had alleged that Udhayanidhi's remarks to eradicate Sanatan Dharma had hurt the Hindu sentiments and that Sekar Babu, as Hindu Religious Minister, must resign for taking part in the event. 

While speaking at the protest, Annamalai claimed that Annadurai had spoken against the Hindu faith at a programme that was held at Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple in 1956. The BJP leader went on to say that the freedom fighter Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar had rebutted Annadurai's remarks and that the latter had offered his apology to the former. As Annamalai came up with a fresh fight, ADMK had quickly reacted to it, stating that there was no evidence to support Annamalai's claim about Annadurai. It is pertinent to note that Annamalai's remarks against Annadurai came ahead of Edappadi Palaniswami's rendezvous with central BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi. 

The ADMK is named after Annadurai, who is called as 'Anna' by his followers and proteges, and the ADMK leadership, that just passed resolution against Annamalai for his speech against Jayalalithaa, had now rolled up its sleeves to fight against Annamalai after he spoke about Anna and went on to declare that there is no alliance between ADMK and BJP. Scathingly attacking Annamalai, ADMK's Jayakumar earlier said urged Annamalai to forgo speaking about the demised leaders. 

Jayakumar said, "I don't know where and in which book Annamalai read about this Annadurai event in 1956 and the ADMK cadres will never accept such comments against Annadurai. Annamalai must offer a regret for his statement and if he continues speaking in the same fashion, he would be given a blistering response." Condemning Annamalai's speech against Annadurai, veteran ADMK leader CV Shanmugam said, "BJP can't win without ADMK's support. The central BJP must watch out Annamalai, who is acting to end the alliance. If he continues to do so, we would urge our leadership to take a call about the alliance."

Shanmugam has also condemned Annamalai's rally 'En Maan, En Makkal' and asked whether it is a pada yatra or a yatra to amass more funds. Responding to Shanmugam's remarks, Annamalai said, "I am not a slave and I won't spare anyone who doubts my honesty. They (ADMK leaders) are more envious about BJP's growth." He also said that every party in Tamil Nadu needs an alliance and everyone needs a protection (to protect them from corruption cases). When it appeared that Annamalai cited the corruption cases faced by the ADMK leaders, Jayakumar held a presser and announced that there is no alliance between ADMK and BJP.  

By citing that BJP is a waste luggage for ADMK, Jayakumar said, "We don't tolerate anymore. BJP is not in the ADMK alliance." Jayakumar further said that Annamalai would not be able to surpass NOTA if he contests independently. "Annamalai is against an alliance with the ADMK although other BJP members want it. BJP can't set foot in Tamil Nadu if we are not with them. As far as the alliance is concerned, it is not there. BJP is not with ADMK. But, it can be decided only during elections", Jayakumar contended. 

Jayakumar's declaration that the alliance is over has come months after both the parties had sealed an alliance for the upcoming general elections. In April 2023, ADMK and BJP had announced an alliance for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls after Amit Shah and Edappadi Palaniswami had met in Delhi. Recently, with the view to counter the opposition INDIA coalition, Prime Minister Modi had convened the BJP allied parties meeting in which Palaniswami was seated next to Modi amid a fragile relationship between ADMK and the Tamil Nadu BJP. Reacting to these current events, the political observers say that both the parties are forgetting the fact that they can't politically survive in Tamil Nadu by locking horns against each other and that the scenes may change when the elections come close.