‘Fall in Line or Rework Alliance’: Behind AIADMK’s Threat to BJP

What does this mean for the AIADMK-BJP alliance and is this a sign of friction between the two parties? 

4 min read
‘Fall in Line or Rework Alliance’: Behind AIADMK’s Threat to BJP

In a veiled attack at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Tamil Nadu’s ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) said that it does not need a ‘national party as an ally if it is going to dictate terms.

On 27 December, during the first leg of the party’s campaign trail for the upcoming 2021 Assembly elections, AIADMK MP KP Munusamy, who is also the deputy coordinator for the state elections, hinted that BJP should accept that AIADMK is the senior partner, endorse the CM candidature of Palaniswami or the saffron party may reconsider its electoral options for the 2021 polls.

What does this mean for the AIADMK-BJP alliance and is this a sign of fissures in the party? The Quint breaks it down for you.


“Whether national or regional parties come in, the government will be headed by the AIADMK,” said KP Munusamy.

“There is no scope for a coalition government and there is no need for it. If any party comes to us with that intention, I urge you to rethink.”
KP Munusamy, AIADMK MP

He made it clear that BJP cannot succeed independently in Tamil Nadu and was very much dependent on AIADMK.

The BJP doesn't have an MLA or an MP in the state and after being in power for nine years, the AIADMK government faces anti-incumbency.

‘No National Party Can Make a Dent in TN:’ AIADMK

Munusamy explained how the state has been home to Dravidian parties for decades since 1967 and no national party has managed to make even a dent.

After the death of Annadurai in 1969, M Karunanidhi became chief minister and in 1972 he expelled MG Ramachandran (MGR) from the party. In October 1972, MGR floated the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) which was later renamed as the AIADMK.

“Since 1967 when Anna (CN Annadurai, founder, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam- DMK) formed the government, Dravidian rule has ensured that no national party can enter Tamil Nadu,” said Munusamy.

In the past few years, the MP has several times endorsed EPS as the candidate and emphasised on how AIADMK enjoys popularity of its own and is not dependent on BJP for survival, which is the case for the saffron party in the Dravidian state.

This is AIADMK’s first Assembly election in the absence of MGR and his successor J Jayalalithaa.

“Some national parties and opportunists are saying that Dravidian rule spoiled the state,” he said.

Tamil Nadu's socio-political landscape was nurtured by the Dravidian movement, which was built on the ethos of Tamil culture, language and valour and hence the state was entirely different from the rest of the country, he added.

Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam refrained from commenting on the alliance, instead attacked the opposition DMK leader MK Stalin.


Power Sharing Issues May Crop up

Political analysts told The Quint that though BJP is the big boss, they need the AIADMK to gain entry into the state.

“BJP has been helping out AIADMK for the past few years and was definitely instrumental in certain key political decisions that resulted in EPS and OPS taking over the reins of the party. They had an upper hand but now, it is a game of politics. The BJP needs to factor in demands by AIADMK as they cannot go running to the opposition. AIADMK is their sole option,” said an analyst on the condition of anonymity.

“AIADMK needs BJP to comply with their terms. BJP is not against the alliance. It was EPS and OPS who had openly welcomed BJP but when it comes to seat sharing and power sharing, there will be issues. It is no longer an Amma or MGR party, it is only an EPS-OPS party and BJP needs to negotiate well.”
Ravindran, Political Analyst

Several social media users have claimed that BJP is also considering breaking away from the AIADMK alliance, forming a separate front with Rajinikanth's party or negotiate for a better bargain deal for a cabinet berth if AIADMK retained power.

Some observers also suggested that this could be shadow-boxing to ensure that AIADMK’s isn’t seen being subservient to the BJP, a point that the Opposition is likely to highlight.

Ravindran told that while the BJP-AIADMK tie-up is sealed, it will face many hiccups, and as for Rajinikanth, he has a surprise in store that will be revealed in a few days.

‘No Controversy:’ BJP

BJP partnered with the ruling AIADMK government for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and since then their alliance has been sealed.

The saffron party’s state unit has maintained all along that the CM nominee of the NDA in Tamil Nadu would be decided and announced by the BJP’s national leadership. They have in the past opposed Dravidian politics, and showed tendencies of separatism, but off late the saffron party has not been targeting the AIADMK on the ground of Dravidian ideology.

BJP’s former national secretary H Raja told reporters in Kanyakumari on Sunday that there was no problem between the two parties. “It’s a procedural issue,” said H Raja. “BJP is a national party so the parliamentary board will make decisions and announce it. There is no controversy; it has been made into a controversy.”


The two Dravidian parties are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to campaigning. While Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami has started his campaign tour in the Kongu region and will then proceed to all the regions including Cauvery Delta region, where DMK has more clout.

While DMK’s Stalin is busy conducting meetings via Zoom, the Chief Minister visited almost 30 districts to review the COVID-19 related work and has been listing the “achievements” of the past two tenures.

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