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AIADMK should go hard on BJP to win back trust of minorities: Party leaders

The party has survived several crisis since the days of MGR. We want to end the ongoing crisis as nothing but a double-edge sword. It is hurting everyone and demoralising the selfless party cadre more,” said an older timer and hardcore fan of MGR to echo the voice of cadre.

AIADMK should go hard on BJP to win back trust of minorities: Party leaders
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Edappadi K Palaniswami (Photo: Hemanathan M) 

CHENNAI: Without taking down the BJP and its policies infused by Hindutva ideology, the AIADMK would find it difficult to earn back the trust of minorities in the state and stands the risk of continuing its losing streak.

Party general secretary Edappadi K Palaniswami declared that there is no going back on their decision to end the ties with the BJP and it would stick to the decision for the Assembly polls in 2026. It is a welcome move, according to seniors and old timers, but they feel that the leader should relook into the issue over factionalism that has been causing much damage to the party and its credibility among the cadre and the party sympathisers.

“The party has survived several crisis since the days of MGR. We want to end the ongoing crisis as nothing but a double-edge sword. It is hurting everyone and demoralising the selfless party cadre more,” said an older timer and hardcore fan of MGR to echo the voice of cadre.

The party lost a “traditional vote bank among minorities” since “breaking the promise of Amma (J Jayalalithaa),” said the septuagenarian from Pollachi parliamentary constituency, which has more than 1.5 lakh Muslim votes. The party lost to its arch-rival DMK by a margin of 2.52 lakh.

The performance of party candidates in constituencies such as Dindigul, Vellore and Ramanathapuram constituencies are evident. The margin of defeat in these constituencies is over 4 lakh and relegated to third position.

“Now or never. We should stop soft-pedalling when the BJP wins at Centre. It hurts us badly. We should go hard on their anti-minority policies to overcome the CAA scar on us,” said former district secretary in Vellore Lok Sabha seat that has close to 4 lakh Muslim votes.

The April 19 poll is yet another point to prove this as the party seems to have lost all the goodwill among the minorities earned and built by late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa. She had called the electoral ties with the BJP a blunder and vowed not to align with the saffron party. She also took out a strong campaign against the BJP and its Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014 and won 37 seats by garnering over 44 per cent votes.

Since Jayalalithaa’s demise, the party’s popularity has been on the decline and the vote share is eroding. The vote share dropped by 25 per cent in 2019 when it faced the polls along with the BJP.

Though it increased its vote share marginally in these polls by securing 20.46 per cent, it is still far away from its performance in 2014.

Though the party came out of the BJP alliance six months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, EPS and second rung leaders refrained from criticising Narendra Modi government and its anti-federal and anti-minority policies. They continue to skirt away from key issues to avoid criticising the 10-year regime.

In fact, the AIADMK was in thick of action on some of the unpopular acts, including farm laws, CAA and NRC.

It maimed the image of the secular party, whose individuality was overshadowed by the saffron party. Several party functionaries, followers of Christianity and Islam, were unable to canvass for votes among their community and neighbourhood.

“We voted for the DMK front in these polls. In fact, religious leaders asked us to keep our political leaning away and vote for the DMK. It is the political compulsion,” said a 65-year-old AIADMK functionary in Chennai Central Constituency.

Echoing the same, a senior leader said that they hoped to reverse the minority-voting pattern and bring back their traditional voters after severing ties with the BJP, but failed in it miserably.

“It shows that they still don’t believe in us. If this trend continues, it will have a serious impact in at least 60 Assembly seats in the state,” the leader who represents minority community in the party said.

They emphasised that the party should adopt strong and aggressive politics against the BJP and call out its approach against minorities.

“Since the BJP has been reduced to a minority government, there is no immediate threat from them. We have to use this opportunity to iron out the flaws within the party and consolidate our vote bank without giving an inch to the BJP, which is trying to alter the bipolar politics,” said another party functionary in Theni constituency where the AIADMK candidate was pushed to third position.

Shanmugha Sundaram J
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