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August 24 2019
2019 Lok Sabha polls: Piyush Goyal begins alliance talks with AIADMK
15 February 2019

The BJP’s Tamil Nadu election in-charge and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday commenced alliance talks with an AIADMK delegation for the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

The negotiations ended past midnight.

Mr. Goyal, who landed in Chennai past 9.20 p.m., drove to the Alwarpet residence of late industrialist Pollachi N. Mahalingam where State Electricity Minister P. Thangamani arrived to discuss the modalities of the alliance.

Mr. Thangamani is a close aide of AIADMK co-coordinator and Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and enjoys a good equation with Mr. Goyal, who previously headed the Power Ministry.

Municipal Administration Minister S.P. Velumani, also a confidant of Mr. Palaniswami, joined the talks.

Backroom negotiations began days ago, with the BJP conveying that it would prefer to contest in 10 seats (including fringe parties under its symbol) even as The AIADMK has indicated a willingness to part with only six seats. The national party may finally settle for eight seats.

It is reliably learnt that the groundwork has also been laid to take on the opposition DMK-led front by forming a grand alliance that would potentially include the PMK, DMDK and a few smaller parties. AIADMK deputy coordinator K.P. Munusamy is believed to have held a meeting with PMK founder S. Ramadoss. Talks with DMDK could pick up steam soon as its leader Vijayakant is scheduled to arrive from the US on Saturday.

In response to a query on a potential electoral tie-up with the AIADMK, Mr. Goyal told reporters at Chennai airport that “in politics all possibilities are open”.

He chose to harp on the “close relationship” between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and late AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa and added, “I am sure we will work together to serve the people of Tamil Nadu. All possibilities are under consideration and discussion. At the right time we will give the good news and confirmation. You will come to know the reality and very soon you will hear from us.”

Mr. Goyal said that the BJP favoured Tamil Nadu’s voice to be heard in New Delhi and therefore wanted the State to be represented in the next government that “Narendra Modi will once again form after the elections”. Confirming that he was in Chennai to chart out an alliance, he said: “We will work along with our friends in Tamil Nadu to give a good election result to strengthen the hands of Prime Minister Modi. Our government will always remain committed to a better future for the people of Tamil Nadu.”

In another development, All India N.R. Congress leader and former Puducherry Chief Minister N. Rangaswamy met Mr. Palaniswami at the latter’s residence in Chennai in the evening. This triggered speculation that he may be fielded in the Puducherry Parliamentary constituency on behalf of the AIADMK-led alliance.

Top sources in the BJP confirmed that Mr. Goyal “will be meeting the top leadership of the AIADMK” in Chennai, reports Nistula Hebbar from New Delhi.

Senior leaders in the BJP also confirmed that while meetings with Mr. Ramadoss had not been scheduled [with Mr. Goyal scheduled to be present at the flagging off of the Vande Bharat Express from New Delhi on Friday morning], the party was interested in an alliance with its former ally.

“The BJP had a good alliance in 2014, but we feel that this time round an alliance with the AIADMK will help us make significant gains in a State where we have had very little presence,” said a senior office-bearer of the party.

 

 

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