Why Can’t BJP Openly Support Either Panneerselvam or Sasikala?

With crucial presidential elections coming up, it’s best for BJP to watch from sidelines than jump into TN politics.

2 min read
With crucial presidential elections coming up, it’s best for the BJP to watch from sidelines than jump in to TN politics.  (Photo: Lijumol Joseph/ <b>The Quint</b>)

After AIADMK’s O Panneerselvam came out in opposition of party chief VK Sasikala, staking claim to the post of Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister on Tuesday night, turmoil in the state has been stirred up again.

Sasikala was elected unanimously by the 134 out of 135 legislators of the AIADMK on Sunday evening. This means that the TN Governor has to go ahead with her swearing-in. But again, Panneerselvam who was “coerced” into resigning, cannot revoke his resignation and resume office.


Whom Will BJP Side With?

At a tally of 37 seats, the AIADMK is the second-largest Opposition party in Parliament, behind INC’s 44.

Though Sasikala aka Chinnamma enjoys popular backing of the AIADMK legislators, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a working relationship with Panneerselvam. It’s the same camaraderie he shared with former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa as they worked together on crucial issues.

This looming split within the party is an opportune time for the BJP to make inroads into the southern state’s politics. Sources from within the BJP have also said that Panneerselvam enjoys support of the top brass of the party.

The BJP’s siding with Panneerselvam is also logical, given how he was chosen by Amma when she was forced to step down from the CM’s seat.

However, the BJP is not speaking in favour of either Panneerselvam or Sasikala openly, clearly with an eye on the upcoming presidential elections.

Is BJP Hoping SC to Overturn Amma’s Acquittal?

In 2014, Jayalalithaa was convicted in the disproportionate assets case, but within eight months, she was acquitted, along with Sasikala and two other people.

Now, if the High Court acquittal is overturned by the Supreme Court, which is likely to announce its decision in a week, that could stop Sasikala from assuming office.

However, if the acquittal stands, Chinnamma becomes CM but in absence of Legislative Council in TN, must face elections within six months.

And given the perception of her of being an usurper, it will be difficult for her to woo the electorate.


Support During Presidential Elections

As the Assembly elections in five states are underway, the BJP finds it tough to decide what will be the political situation after the polls.

Prime Minister Modi’s demonetisation move in November hurt his popular standing among people, but the influence he holds cannot be disregarded.

In Punjab, where the Akali-BJP alliance has been in place since 2012, has lost steam and is likely to lose the chief ministerial seat to the Aam Aadmi Party.

If the party loses in Uttar Pradesh elections as well, the crucial seats of the electoral college will fall, as the state has the maximum number of seats in the legislative assembly, thereby holding considerable sway in presidential elections.

So, the BJP needs to maintain an alliance of sorts with the AIADMK, which also has a considerable number of legislative seats, if it wants to be able to choose its own candidate as president.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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