The Modi government received a solid backing of the 37 AIADMK MPs in Lok Sabha during Friday's no-trust motion. It has only strengthened the perception in Tamil Nadu that their ruling party was in league with a central government that cares little for the interests of the people of the state.
The AIADMK, the third largest party in Lok Sabha after ruling BJP and opposition Congress, had, under Jayalalithaa, positioned itself as a party that was reasonably independent of the BJP by giving issue-based support. As long as Jayalalithaa was alive, the Centre did nothing to upset her on either NEET or Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana or UDAY.
Incidentally, it was after her demise that the AIADMK, headed by O Pannerselvam (now deputy CM) and Chief Minister Edapaddi Palaniswami, reversed the stand on a host of issues, including her opposition to GST that she said infringed on the financial rights of the state government.
The dubbing of the EPS-OPS-led AIADMK as the B team of the BJP is something that the party can ill afford at a time when the state is witnessing protests from a cross-section of the society – farmers, villagers, government teachers, students, activists, as it only strengthens the perception that it was working with forces that were "anti-Tamil Nadu".
The public perception does more harm than good as the AIADMK will be struggling to repeat its performance of winning all but two seats in Tamil Nadu in 2014 general elections to Lok Sabha. Firstly, it will be going in without a leader as charismatic as Jayalalithaa.
Secondly, and more important, if it ties up with the BJP formally, AIADMK would have a much tougher battle on its hands given the public mood against the state government and the Centre.
The opposition DMK has pounced on the apparent ties between AIADMK and BJP with glee. It knows now it has the proof of what it has all along been alleging that the minority government in TN had the blessings of the BJP and was only acting at its bidding – even if they were against the interests of Tamil Nadu.
DMK working president MK Stalin was quick to blast the AIADMK. Here's what he said on Twitter, minutes after the trust vote late on Friday night:
Support for Modi Govt in #NoConfidence despite NEET, 15th Finance Commission, GST, Hindi imposition and communal politics is further proof of the quid pro quo arrangement between ADMK and BJP. IT raids on Chief Minister Edapadi Palaniswami's family have achieved their objective.
Incidentally, the perception that the BJP is driving the AIADMK has only been strengthened after it supported the Modi government in Lok Sabha. Also, it seems like the party has no option but to go with the BJP. However, is that what the Amit Shah-led party wants or not is entirely a different matter altogether.
For now, it is a compulsion for the AIADMK government to toe the BJP line to retain power in the state.