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Presidential poll: EPS faction agrees to support BJP

CHENNAI: The NDA’s president candidate will have it easy if the AIADMK factions keep their word. AIADMK (Amma) leader M Thambidurai, who called on Union information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday, has pledged support for the NDA candidate, sources in the AIADMK and the BJP confirmed. A formal announcement is expected from chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami later.

The AIADMK (Amma) faction has 38 MPs and 124 MLAs including the assembly speaker in its fold. The O Panneerselvam faction with 12 MPs and 11MLAs is also expected to support the BJP candidate. This would take the BJP’s vote share beyond 55%.

The NDA, on its own, enjoys a vote share of 48.64%. With the Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader and Telangana chief minister K Chandrasehekar Rao promising support to the NDA, the alliance crossed the halfway mark. The AIADMK’s combined strength is 5.3% votes-135 MLAs and 50 MPs.

The Edappadi government has been trying hard to maintain a rapport with the Centre ever since the death of J Jayalalithaa, who had a good equation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Union minister of state for shipping Pon Radhakrishnan told
SatyamevJayates said the BJP has been calling upon all Tamil Nadu parties to support the BJP in the presidential polls.

“If the AIADMK supports us, it is commendable,” he said.

Thambidurai, however, dubbed his meeting with Naidu a courtesy call. “Our chief minister, along with senior ministers, will hold discussion and decide who to support, within two days,” he told reporters.

Palaniswami has met Modi twice during the four months he has been CM. “It is EPS who is leading our party and government. We will naturally support the BJP in response to all the support we get from the Centre,” said a senior minister, seeking anonymity.
“After all, our government is safe in the hands of the BJP,” another minister said.

 Incidentally, 25 MLAs from the TTV camp on Thursday called on Palaniswami and conveyed their support to Edappadi’s decision on presidential election. However, they urged him to allow Sasikala to continue as party general secretary and T T V Dhinakaran as deputy general secretary.

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