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Congress, BJP eye support for presidential polls amid Tamil Nadu’s political turmoil

LiveMint logoLiveMint 10-05-2017 Dharani Thangavelu

Chennai: Ahead of the crucial presidential election, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are banking on Tamil Nadu’s discordant political spectrum, even as the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) are gearing up for a possible early assembly elections in the state.

While the DMK is likely to support the Congress and other opposition parties, the AIADMK factions may support the BJP. “It is clear that both the factions of AIADMK would support the BJP. While we are looking at a grand alliance, we are planning ahead for the assembly election which the state is expected to face soon,” said a senior DMK leader, on the condition of anonymity.

The DMK is organising a grand birthday celebration in Chennai for party president M. Karunanidhi, who will turn 94 on 3 June, and plans to use the opportunity to bring together a front along with its ally Congress against the BJP-led NDA.

DMK has invited Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other opposition party leaders, including Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Communist Party of India leader D. Raja for the celebrations, which will also mark the DMK veteran’s 60 years as a legislator.

“There is a steady progress in Thalaivar’s (leader’s) health. He will meet the cadres if doctors permit,” said DMK’s working president and leader of opposition M.K. Stalin.

Apart from raising its stakes for the presidential polls, which will be held after the term of Pranab Mukherjee comes to an end in July, the DMK also plans to use the opportunity to make a pitch for assembly elections in the state, which many expect may take place soon given the political turmoil within the ruling AIADMK.

With a number of public meetings and rallies lined up by the two factions of the AIADMK and the DMK, Tamil Nadu seems to be in an election mode.

“If there is an early election and if Karunanidhi addresses the crowd it is definitely a boost for all of us,” said a senior DMK leader.

Meanwhile, as of now, the door seems shut for merger talks between the two warring factions of the AIADMK.

Former chief minister and leader of AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma) O. Panneerselvam, while addressing a gathering on Friday, said, “There is a possibility for an early assembly election. Cadres should be ready to face it.” Panneerselvam who began his statewide tour on Friday will meet party functionaries and address gatherings through this month across the state.

On the same day when Panneerselvam was talking to cadres on the outskirts of Chennai, Stalin at a public meeting in R.K. Nagar reiterated his earlier statement, “Tamil Nadu would face a general election and DMK is fully prepared for it.”

Then there is the crucial local body elections, which are expected to be held by the end of July, according to the state election commission. The local bodies have been lying vacant in the state since 24 October and a case is pending in the Madras high court regarding the conducting of polls.

“Anything can happen now and it won’t be a surprise if elections to the assembly are held even before the local body elections. We must be prepared,” Panneerselvam told his party functionaries last week.

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