The Bharatiya Janata Party’s key ally in Tamil Nadu, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Wednesday slammed the saffron party alleging that it is anti-Tamil and claimed that the party could never grow in the state.
The alliance with the BJP was merely an 'electoral adjustment' and the saffron party's ideology is diametrically opposite to that of the AIADMK, veteran party leader C Ponnaiyan said.
Ponnaiyan alleged that the BJP is continuously 'imposing' Hindi despite the AIADMK's stiff opposition all along.
"The imposition of Hindi is many times more than what it was during the Congress-led governments at the Centre," he told PTI. "We firmly stand by the two-language policy of Tamil and English."
Ponnaiyan, a founding member of the AIADMK, is the party's organisation secretary and a senior spokesperson. A minister in the previous AIADMK regimes, he was part of the cabinet led by both party founder M G Ramachandran and late leader J Jayalalithaa.
He said the AIADMK is opposed to the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for medical admissions. The BJP, however, is 'forcing' the test on Tamil Nadu and this has led to a scenario of 'students from northern states' taking away a chunk of seats in medical colleges in the state, he alleged.
While 'state autonomy' is a fundamental principle of his party, the former minister said the BJP-led central government has reduced state governments to the level of a 'village panchayat' by taking away the rights of states like those related to taxation.
Pointing to the Supreme Court judgment on Cauvery river water issue and inter-state river water matters like the Mullaiperiyar, he condemned what he termed the BJP's 'step-motherly' treatment towards Tamil Nadu.
Accusing the BJP of 'actively siding with' the Sri Lankan 'Rajapakse' government that was “behind the killings” of 1.5 lakh Tamils in the 2009 war in the island nation between the now defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Army, he said the Tamil families affected by war were yet to get due relief.
Also, the Tamil people have not been empowered by giving them equal rights and opportunities.
Ponnaiyan said AIADMK firmly stood for the rights of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, which includes those related to equal employment opportunities, land rights and due respect and recognition for the Tamil language. "We do not accept the BJP's anti-Tamil race, anti-Tamil language sentiments (stand)."
Asserting that the BJP can never grow in Tamil Nadu, he said the national party may get a space in the state only if it appropriately addresses all such issues.
Asked if the AIADMK would continue its alliance with the BJP for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, he said, "I do not know. How can we comment on that now?"
On May 31, addressing a party event in Chennai, Ponnaiyan had said that the BJP's growth (in Tamil Nadu) would not augur well for the AIADMK, the state and the Dravidian policies as well. It was the first, open criticism by an AIADMK leader against the BJP.
The AIADMK fought the 2021 assembly election in alliance with the BJP, Pattali Makkal Katchi and other smaller parties. The saffron party won four assembly seats and the alliance, in total, bagged 75 seats in the 234-member assembly. The DMK-led coalition won 159 seats.
Ponnaiyan's comments come against the backdrop of a growing perception in the state that the BJP, under the leadership of its state unit chief K Annamalai, is performing the role of the main opposition party, while the AIADMK is not putting up a spirited fight to take on the ruling DMK.