Chennai: The seat-sharing arrangement of BJP with AIADMK was finalised late Friday after several rounds of negotiations. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be contesting in 20 assembly seats alongside the Loksabha seat from Kanyakumari. Bypolls was necessitated following the death of sitting Member of Parliament H. Vasanthakumar at Kanyakumari.
Following up with the release of its first list of six candidates for the polls on Friday, the AIADMK firmed up the electoral agreement with the Saffron party late Friday night.
The AIADMK release pledged its full support to the candidates of the BJP in the polls and the pact was signed by O Panneerselvam and K Palaniswami from the ruling party side and the saffron party's national general secretary, C T Ravi and state unit chief L Murugan.
Earlier, The negotiations on seat-sharing was initated in a meeting between BJP top leader Amit Shah and AIADMK's Palaniswami and Panneerselvam. The move was later taken forward by CT Ravi, and poll in charge for Tamil Nadu, G Kishan Reddy with the leadership of the state's ruling party.
The BJP eyed a number of constituencies in the western belt of Tamil Nadu, considered the stronghold of the AIADMK and where the national party is also perceived to have pockets of influence.
While state BJP leadership was expecting more than 25 seats, the AIADMK leadership was adamant that they cannot part with more than 20 seats given the grassroots-level strength of the BJP in Tamil Nadu.
Reacting to the seat sharing arrangement BJP leader and former Karaikkudi MLA, H. Raja said "We deserve more seats but we got only 20 seats. Our aim is to win maximum seats out of these and become a major player in the assembly."
The party is also expecting to wrest the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat from the Congress.
The party veteran leader Pon Radhakrishnan, who is a former Union Minister will be contesting the seat for the ninth time. He lost the 2019 general elections by a margin of 3 lakh votes to H Vasanthakumar of Congress .
Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be personally overseeing the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha elections and is set to reach the holy city on Sunday morning and hold meeting with party workers.
BJP Tamil Nadu state president L. Murugan is highly optimistic about the party's prospects in the assembly polls and said: "BJP has made deep inroads in the Tamil heartlands and these grassroot-level organizational work will be transferred into votes.
"Also the performance of the Modi government at the Centre has given the BJP a great advantage. We will surprise poll pundits and politcal observers in this election and will win maximum seats". Tamil Nadu goes to polls on April 6 and the results will be announced on May 2.
Meanwhile Union Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Tamil Nadu and Kerala once again. On Sunday,. Shah will launch the door-to-door campaign called 'Vijay Sankalp Mahasampark Yatra' in the Suchindram town of Kanyakumari.
In this campaign, party workers will go from door-to-door to urge the people of Tamil Nadu to discuss the policies of the central government and the understand the vision of the BJP.
It is to be noted that Tamil Nadu is a state with castes and community playing a major roll in elections and with a Dalit leader like Murugan leading the party, BJP expects that it can improve its stakes in Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.
Days ago, the AIADMK concluded seat-sharing with the Pattali Makkal Katchi and allotted it 23 seats.
Out of the 234 assembly seats, the AIADMK is keen to contest from at least 170 seats including 134 it won during the 2016 polls, sources said.
(with inputs from different agencies)