The ‘body-language’ of the main participants at the meeting that BJP president Amit Shah had with AIADMK convenor and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam at Madurai on Friday triggered a heated debate, in political corridors and media platforms, whether rival DMK chief M K. Stalin’s oft-repeated charge that BJP Government at the Centre bulldozed and blackmailed the ruling party in TN into meekly submitting to the poll alliance on saffron terms.
Much was made out of the availability of just one chair at the Madurai meeting for the AIADMK team, which was taken by OPS; while Shah sat regally at the ‘presiding’ position and his TN BJP leaders occupied the chairs close to him. The AIADMK seniors, including the local party MP stood respectfully behind OPS, who himself sat “almost at the edge of the seat” in a show of ‘respect’ for the BJP chief.
Apart from such ‘loudness’ in that ‘body-language’, critics also pointed out that Shah had multiple times stressed that all the public meetings and other campaign events in Tamil Nadu, just as elsewhere in the country, must be announced as held by the NDA alliance. Was the AIADMK being cut down in size despite its dominant position in terms of strong cadre base and solid state leadership, asked the critics. Social media too was pretty hot on this issue.
TN BJP president Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan decided it was time she gave a ‘clarification’ on the debate on who’s the alliance leader in the Dravidian state. “The AIADMK is undoubtedly the leader of the alliance in Tamil Nadu, whereas at the national level we are fighting together under the NDA and the visionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is our Prime Ministerial candidate”, she told reporters.
The discussion was cordial in this regard between the AIADMK and BJP leadership, she said after a meeting with Chief Minister K Palaniswami here. She charged the Opposition of “trying to create confusion”.
As for the talks with DMDK, she said there “is not deadlock of any kind” and negotiations were progressing in cordial manner. The DMDK leadership “is mindful of the national interest, so we are confident they will join our alliance”, she said.
Meanwhile, AIADMK senior minister D Jayakumar said the name under which the AIADMK-led coalition should be addressed would be decided by the party high command. All that should matter right now was that a mega alliance, led by the AIADMK, has been put in place for the interests of Tamil Nadu and of the nation. “We are united,” he said, adding that many more parties were set to join the alliance