The powerful Thevar community of South Tamil Nadu which has been a traditional vote bank of the AIADMK is now approaching the national leadership of the BJP for re-entry of O. Panneerselvam (OPS) and V.K. Sasikala into the party. Both OPS and Sasikala are from the Thevar community and have solid support in the community and across South Tamil Nadu.
During a recent meeting of the Thevar community at Tirunelveli, a meeting of the elders of the community was held in which it was decided that they will approach the BJP leaders to persuade the AIADMK leadership to accommodate both OPS and Sasikala into the party.
Sasikala, the former interim general secretary of the AIADMK, was removed from party positions after she was incarcerated in Bengaluru central prison in a case related to amassing wealth above her known sources of income. OPS was removed from the party during its general council meeting held in July 2022.
The party is presently under the control of former Chief Minister, Edappadi K. Palaniswami (EPS) who is a Gounder. While the Thevar community is the traditional vote base of the AIADMK and has a major say in South Tamil Nadu, two powerful leaders of the community are now out of recognition from the AIADMK. Sources in the Thevar community told IANS that the community will meet senior BJP leaders in New Delhi and persuade them to have a say as in the 2024 general elections if the AIADMK has to win seats, it has to be with the support of the Thevar community. The BJP leadership which is desperately trying for any single seat from South India will definitely support the request of the Thevar community as it cannot afford to lose even a single seat that it can win with the support of the AIADMK.
G. Padmanabhan, Director, Socio-Economic Development Foundation, told IANS that, “The BJP national leadership will gleefully accept the proposal and try and persuade the AIADMK leadership as the party would like a unified AIADMK in the next general elections. The Thevar community of South Tamil Nadu can easily tilt the vote bank in almost all of South Tamil Nadu and this is crucial as far as the BJP is concerned.”
The AIADMK official faction has already announced that OPS does not have any role in the party and that his fate was sealed during the general council meeting of the party in which a majority of the leaders came out against Panneerselvam. However, OPS has his own strengths in Tamil Nadu politics and his re-entry into the AIADMKw will help that party catapult to the power structure of Tamil Nadu.