The question of an NDA alliance in Tamil Nadu was answered today after BJP and AIADMK formally announced their alliance for both the 2019 Loksabha elections and the by-polls for the 21 vacant seats in Assembly mainly due to the disqualification of MLAs owing allegiance to Sasikala/TTV Dinakaran camp and the deaths of sitting MLAs, prominently the Tiruvarur assembly seat long occupied by late M K Karunanidhi.
There can’t be a better person than Piyush Goyal to forge this alliance in TN for BJP as there was a time in 2015 when he was the Power Minister, he had exasperated in his inability to get an appointment with Jayalalithaa to convince her on TN enlisting in the UDAY scheme. He persisted and finally by July 2016 a couple of months before Jaya fell sick and got admitted, he managed to woo her in his own style and eventually got TN enlisted in UDAY scheme.
After Venkiah Naidu became Vice President, the choice of handling TN could have gone to either Nirmala Sitharaman or Piyush Goyal. Nirmala Sitharaman had a fall out with O Panneerselvam and that made Piyush Goyal the natural choice to make this happen which he did successfully. His brief tenures as Finance Minister also would have been pretty useful as another bone of contention for the TN parties was the allocation of funds for the State.
For AIADMK they have nothing to lose by this alliance. Their cadre base having been split between Edappadi Palaniswamy, O Pannerselvam and T T V Dhinakaran, with the absence of a towering leader like Jaya, AIADMK had been facing a snub in these Loksabha elections. However with this alliance, they improve their chances of winning as this is Central elections and not State elections, so there will be definitely Modi factor that could help them coupled with latest Income tax ruling in Budget and farmer’s income that have improved the goodwill for BJP. This also helps to consolidate the anti-DMK/Congress votes, especially since Stalin openly supports Rahul Gandhi as the PM of the Mahaghatbandhan. But what makes this really formidable is PMK joining. They have about 5-6% vote-share which could be a key factor. Any loss of vote-share due to Dhinakaran camp could be made up through this as also BJP’s vote-share.
The story doesn’t end here. The wily Goyal also visited Vijayakanth on his way, and dismissed the meeting as one of “general health enquiry”. If they add them also into the alliance, it is another 3-5% vote-share. With Rajnikanth backing out from this election, his fan base and the following is also up for grabs, and if he makes the right noises in favour of BJP which he has been doing so far, that too adds up.
Thus from a situation of perhaps complete rout in case these parties fought the elections separately, they have turned this around into an interesting combination and have substantially improved their chances of winning the State. Piyush Goyal has once again proved how vital his contributions are both as a Minister in different portfolios and as a deal maker in pulling this off!