With 37 MPs in the Lok Sabha, the AIADMK has largely been a fence-sitter maintaining a cordial relationship with the Centre, but not taking a clear stand either.
In Tamil Nadu, people's dislike for the BJP was clearly seen in the recent past with protests on social media with hashtags such as #GoBackModi and #GoBackAmitShah trending on Twitter.
But then governments are not run on Twitter.
Being the third-largest party in the lower house in Parliament, the AIADMK has been nudged by Opposition parties in the state to vote against the BJP during Friday's no-confidence motion.
— ANI (@ANI) July 20, 2018
#NoConfidenceMotion turning into a loyalty test for BJP and Congress-led opposition. SS whip to vote with govt significant. AIADMK declines to support opposition. Writings on the wall for 2019?— Minhaz Merchant (@MinhazMerchant) July 19, 2018
“We hope the 37 MPs of the AIADMK remember that they are first and foremost representatives of the people of Tamil Nadu and they should give voice to the concerns of the people who live and reside in Tamil Nadu. It is with that hope we have asked the AIADMK to take a position supporting the no-confidence motion,” said Manu Sundaram, DMK spokesperson.
Raising allegations that the BJP failed to deliver its promises, Sundaram added, “PM Modi came with a promise that he will give Rs 15 lakh in everyone's bank account, will generate one crore new jobs every year and bring back black money stashed abroad. But what has he done? He has imposed demonetisation, he has thrust GST in an improper manner and he has foisted the NEET and 15th Finance Commission on states against their wishes. So, it has been a government that has gone against the interest of Tamil Nadu as well as the rest of the country.
The fence-sitters: Many say with conviction that both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam are 'controlled by Delhi.
"We hope the AIADMK supports the no-confidence motion. But given the quid pro quo between the AIADMK and the BJP in Tamil Nadu, I don’t see it happening and that ultimately is something that the people of Tamil Nadu will not forget.”
Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) had earlier said that the AIADMK will not support the no-confidence motion as it was moved by Andhra Pradesh to highlight its own issues, and noted that there was no one who supported Tamil Nadu when the Cauvery issue was raised in Parliament.
A few months back when Tamil Nadu was on the boil over Cauvery, the AIADMK had said that if there was a no-confidence motion moved it would vote in favour of the motion. But times have changed now.
According to senior journalist Radhakrishnan, "The AIADMK will do as the BJP tells them to. EPS is saying this to negotiate with the Centre, or could be because of the I-T raids. But it has nothing to do with the welfare of Tamil Nadu. Even in Cauvery matter, it was not like the Centre took a stand that was in favour of Tamil Nadu. Taking all this into consideration and the fact that the Centre has not done anything for the state so far, the AIADMK should actually support the motion. But EPS and O Panneerselvam (OPS) will be unable to do so because they are completely governed by Delhi.”
The DMK too though urged the AIADMK to make a better choice and make use of the opportunity in the Assembly, saw the AIADMK as an agent acting on behalf of the BJP.
“The AIADMK today is very different from the AIADMK that we had seen in the past. People in Tamil Nadu now feel the AIADMK as an extension of the BJP. The regional giant has extended support to the Centre in a number of issues that have gone against the interest of the people in Tamil Nadu. Today, when there is a no-confidence motion, the AIADMK is dilly-dallying and will finally say they will lot back the no-confidence motion,” added Sundaram.
Meanwhile, as all eyes are on the AIADMK, senior party leader and fisheries minister D Jayakumar said, “Yesterday the CM indicated no support for the no-confidence motion. He clearly stated we will not support it. It's a BJP versus TDP fight. The Congress versus BJP. Why should we support. This is not necessary for us. No rebellion among MPs. we have given instructions. Based on that MP will act in Parliament. Let's wait and see.”
What added to the political chaos was Supreme Court's decision on Friday (July 20) to stay the Madras High Court directive to the CBSE to grant grace marks to students who suffered from the erroneous Tamil translation of 49 questions in the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) for undergraduate medical admissions.
While the NEET has been consistently opposed by the Tamil Nadu government right from its conceptualisation in the past decade, the state, cutting across party lines, feels the Centre (on this issue) is “ignoring” the regional aspirations and interests of people.
The question that arises now is — will the AIADMK ignore the interest of its own people to back a BJP government at the Centre, or does it have a different game plan?