Mission South: AIADMK likely to join NDA soon
BJP President Amit Shah cancelling his visit to Tamil Nadu has given rise to more speculations on an impending reshuffle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's council of ministers.
Amit Shah's visit to Chennai came at a time when the two factions of the AIADMK were holding talks to announce their merger was postponed primarily because Shah's presence in Delhi was deemed important for the next few days, an indication of a long anticipated cabinet reshuffle.
BJP sources said the impending reshuffle of the Union cabinet was one reason Shah would not go to Tamil Nadu on Tuesday. He was scheduled to be in Tamil Nadu from August 22 to 24.
The AIADMK, sources said, could be rewarded with two cabinet berths and posts of two junior ministers once the party joins the NDA. The AIADMK has 37 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 13 in the Rajya Sabha, Reports News 18.
With 50 MPs in the two houses of parliament the AIADMK represents the third largest bloc and its only figurehead at Delhi is Lok Sabha deputy speaker M. Thambidurai.
So by giving at least one Cabinet post and two MoS posts to the AIADMK, the BJP hopes to firm up a solid alliance in time for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
In the past, AIADMK has been in and out of the NDA government. It had joined the alliance in 1998-1999 and then again in 2004-2006.
The BJP, which has only a 2.5 per cent vote share in Tamil Nadu, has been trying to increase its foothold in the state.
The AIADMK's move to join NDA could prove crucial for the party's future and the BJP's game plan for Tamil Nadu.
Nitish Kumar-led JD(U) is also likely to join the Modi Cabinet after the Bihar CM ditched Mahagathbandhan to return to the NDA fold. JD(U), with fewer MPs than AIADMK, may get just one Cabinet berth.
Meanwhile, Amit Shah and PM Modi held meeting with BJP-ruled state Chief Ministers in Delhi for performance analysis and to discuss strategy for the upcoming elections in states and at the Centre.