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3-way intrigue grips TN politics

Nirmala-AIADMK MLAs meet sparks patch-up talk, OPS and TTV may attempt third front

3-way intrigue grips TN politics

MLAs from AIADMK, led by Pollachi Jayaraman, calling on Nirmala Sitharaman. Vanathi Srinivasan MLA is also seen

CHENNAI: The State politics was in for a three-way sizzler on Tuesday after senior leaders from the AIADMK called on BJP leader and Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Coimbatore and the leader of a Muslim outfit considered part of the secular camp met Edappadi K Palaniswami in neighbouring Salem, while rebel leader O Panneerselvam and TTV Dhinakaran are gearing up to meet the national leadership of the saffron party in the coming days.

These developments have triggered multiple speculations, with estranged allies, AIADMK and BJP, at the heart of them all: both seem to be making moves to strengthen themselves if the rumoured patch-up fails to materialise.

The most significant development of the day happened in the west where AIADMK legislators Pollachi V Jayaraman, TK Amulkandasami and AK Selvaraj met Nirmala, which instantly sparked intense speculations. However, they denied there being any political reasons behind the meeting and claimed that they met Nirmala to raise the demands of coconut farmers in their constituencies.

“There are no political reasons behind our meeting with the Union Minister. We didn’t speak of the alliance, as any decision on that will be taken only by party general secretary Edappadi Palaniswami,” Jayaraman told the media.

Later in the day, these MLAs also shared the stage with the Minister and Vanathi Srinivasan, Coimbatore South MLA and the chief of Mahila Morcha, at a credit outreach programme where Jayaraman astounded all by referring to Nirmala as Amma – an honorific strictly reserved for late leader J Jayalalithaa.

When asked, Jayaraman downplayed that, too, claiming that he said that out of respect. “Puratchithalaivi (Jayalalithaa) is the only Amma for us. [She] can’t be compared with anyone,” he said.

Meanwhile, sources from the rebel and splinter factions of the Dravidian major told DT Next that Panneerselvam and Dhinakaran were likely to fly to Delhi in the coming days to meet the BJP leadership. Though the national party has not given up on the AIADMK, it is also in touch with OPS and Dhinakaran to keep its options open.

The meeting is certain to take place though the date and time are yet to be confirmed, said an OPS confidante. “We are expecting a call regarding this in a day or two,” the source said.

Even as leaders from the O Panneerselvam camp insist that their entry into the BJP-led NDA was merely a matter of formality, political experts opine that the alliance equations would be clear only after the crucial meeting of the BJP state unit that is slated on Thursday.

“The formation of a third front for the Lok Sabha polls is certain. There is no doubt about it. Panneerselvam will play a crucial role in its formation,” said OPS loyalist V Pugazhendhi.

However, he said OPS’s Delhi trip along with Dhinakaran was not yet confirmed. “If an invite comes from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who heads the NDA, our leader will surely take a positive call to finalise the alliance,” he added.

Sources in the OPS camp are citing the meeting between close associates of AIADMK leader SP Velumani and Union Minister and BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman to claim there are undercurrents within the AIADMK.

Though the MLAs played down the meeting, it was “loaded with a political message,” claimed a former legislator who is now in the OPS camp. “It is a move scripted by the BJP to break the EPS camp to strengthen the third front. We strongly believe Velumani and his supporters will join the third front under OPS,” the person said.

The rebels’ hopes for a third front were strengthened after Edappadi Palaniswami justified the decision to break ties with the BJP and said the party stood firm on it, while senior leader D Jayakumar ruled out any possibility of a patch-up by describing the relationship as “broken glass.”

“As EPS-led AIADMK quit the NDA, OPS and Dhinakaran may try to get inside the coalition, which the BJP may welcome. Everything will be clear only after the state BJP office-bearers’ meeting on Thursday,” said political observer Tharasu Shyam.

Shanmughasundaram J
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