Factional merger in Tamil Nadu
Ending a bitter spat that saw them part ways more than six month ago following the death of their leader J Jayalalithaa, the two factions of the AIADMK announced Monday a merger deal under which Edappadi K Palaniswami will remain the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and O Panneerselvam, his predecessor, will be Deputy Chief Minister. K Pandiarajan, a close aide of Panneerselvam, will also be in the cabinet.
The deal, reached after several rounds of negotiations with the blessings of the BJP, will lead to the formal ouster of V K Sasikala as the AIADMK general secretary. Panneerselvam has been designated coordinator of an 11-member steering committee which will also have three joint coordinators — R Vaithilingam, K P Munuswamy and Palaniswami. Vaithilingam said the party will convene a general council meeting to remove Sasikala from the post of general secretary. The removal of Sasikala and a probe into the death of Jayalalithaa were two key demands of the Panneerselvam faction. But these put at risk the majority that the Palaniswami government enjoys — the Sasikala camp, led by her nephew and party deputy general secretary Dinakaran, has the support of at least 23 MLAs including three Independents. Dinakaran has not yet responded to the merger announcement.
Should poll system should change ?
Initiating what could be the first structured discussion on the issue, an all-party Parliamentary panel was exploring “different systems of elections”, other than the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system that was currently followed in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. Citing “apprehensions” that the FPTP may not be the “best suited system”, as “evident” from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma, had sent a six-page “Questionnaire on Electoral Reforms” to all parties and the Election Commission. The questionnaire said “There are different systems of elections — like first-past-the-post (FPTP), list system (open list and closed system), proportional representation, ranked or preferential voting, and mixed systems. In our country we follow FPTP for Parliament and Legislative Assemblies’ elections and proportional representation for the election of President…What is your view in the matter and please also suggest the alternative system, if any,”. In the past, the Congress and other Opposition leaders had, on several occasions, reminded the BJP that it won the 2014 Lok Sabha polls because of the FPTP system, as the party polled only about 31 per cent of the vote share.
Bahujan Samaj Party tweets for opposition unity
The BSP had lent its support to the likes of senior Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav, who had been asking the opposition to stand united against the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA) at the Centre. The BSP posted a picture on Twitter requesting all the opposition party leaders to join hands and fight towards the "social injustice" in the nation. The picture included BSP supremo Mayawati's arch rival and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. The poster had pictures of other prominent opposition leaders too, such as Congress president Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister and All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) president Mamata Banerjee, along with Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad Yadav and son Tejashwi Yadav. The poster said, "One step towards social justice - Unified effort of the Opposition." Also featuring pictures of influential political figures such as Dalit icon Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar and BSP founder Kanshi Ram, among others, the BSP's move came in the wake of the recent ' Sanjhi Viraasat Bacho' programme organised by Sharad Yadav. The talk of a 'joint opposition' picked up pace soon after JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar snapped ties with the RJD and the Congress, and stepped down from his chief ministerial seat in Bihar only to be sworn-in as the chief minister again the next day, this time in alliance with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Nitish Kumar leads his faction into NDA
The Janata Dal-United faction led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday passed a resolution at the party’s national executive meeting here to formally join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). “A resolution that the JD-U will join the BJP-led NDA was unanimously approved in the meeting. Now we have become part of NDA,” JD-U General Secretary K.C. Tyagi told reporters. The resolution was moved by Tyagi, which was approved by all invited members. Tyagi said that BJP President Amit Shah had urged Nitish Kumar during his recent visit to Delhi to join the NDA. He said the national executive also approved the party’s decision to walk out of the Grand Alliance of the RJD and Congress and join hands with the BJP to form the government in Bihar. The national executive meeting was held at the official residence of Nitish Kumar, who is also JD-U president. Most of the JD-U leaders, including 70 party MLAs, two Lok Sabha MPs and seven Rajya Sabha MPs participated in the meeting. The JD-U now has two factions: one led by Nitish Kumar and the other by senior party leader and former party president Sharad Yadav. Yadav has been opposed to Nitish Kumar’s move to embrace the BJP.