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Annamalai as CM candidate in Tamil Nadu? AIADMK leader explains why it broke alliance with BJP


Among the reasons that led to the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam ending its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was the saffron party’s insistence to project its state unit chief K Annamalai as the chief ministerial candidate for the 2026 Assembly polls, a senior leader of Tamil Nadu’s erstwhile ruling party said on September 30.

“The AIADMK broke the alliance with BJP because they were insisting on accepting Tamil Nadu BJP leader K Annamalai as the chief ministerial candidate in the 2026 assembly elections,” news agency ANI quoted AIADMK leader and former minister KC Karuppannan as saying at a party event in Erode.

Karuppannan added that Annamalai’s “criticism” of late AIADMK matriarch J Jayalalithaa was also the factor that led to the ties with the BJP being severed.

“K Annamalai criticised the late former CM Jayalalithaa. How can we tolerate criticism of our party’s institutional leaders, so the AIADMK announced that they are withdrawing from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. We are committed to this decision,” he said.

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The remarks come two after another AIADMK senior functionary, KP Munusamy, said that party chief Edappadi Palaniswami will lead a separate alliance of smaller state parties in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Munusamy also rejected the ruling DMK’s charge that the party will patch-up with the BJP ahead of the 2024 polls. “Stalin is making such allegations because his party is jittery ever since we snapped ties with the BJP,” he said.

The AIADMK leader also denied the reports which claimed that the party’s leadership, in a meeting with BJP president JP Nadda earlier this month, had called for Annamalai’s removal as their Tamil Nadu unit chief. 

“It is childish to even ask if such a large party like AIADMK would seek the removal of the party’s state president. We will never commit such a mistake,” India Today had quoted Munusamy as saying.

Annamalai, the fiery BJP leader who has been leading its affairs in Tamil Nadu since 2021, has sounded critical of the AIADMK even when the two parties were in an alliance. The ties deteriorated in June this year, after he was accused of “intentionally” taking a dig at Jayalalithaa.

AIADMK’s decision to exit the NDA, as announced on September 25, was met with celebration by the party’s cadres who believed that they were losing their grip on the Dravadian and minority community voters due to the association with the BJP.

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Updated: 30 Sep 2023, 03:12 PM IST

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.