Hyderabad: BJP, leading the government at the Centre, is keen on keeping the AIADMK flock together if its general secretary Sasikala Natarajan makes a move to replace Mr O. Panneerselvam as Chief Minister, which is likely in the next few weeks.

Sources said the Centre is keenly watching the political developments in Tamil Nadu and keeping tabs on a section of AIADMK legislators who are not willing to side with Ms Natarajan in her attempt to become Chief Minister. If this happens, the central leaders believe that the AIADMK Legislature Party could split.

Sources said the Centre has information that at least 35 AIADMK MLAs would resign from the Assembly, which would rob the party of its majority, or form a splinter group and join the Opposition DMK.
Sources in the Union home ministry said in-charge Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao has been told to take steps to avoid a split in the AIADMK at least till the elections to the posts of Indian President and Vice-President are completed in July and August.

The Governor and the Speaker hold the key in the matter of defections. The central BJP leadership is keen on getting BJP nominees elected to both the top posts. There is some concern about the outcome of the five state Assembly elections, particularly in Uttar Pradesh which has 403 MLAs.

Members of both Houses of Parliament and MLAs are voters in the presidential election; the election for Vice-President is restricted to Members of Parliament.

According to sources, the BJP central leadership wants to ensure that there is no instability till the two elections are over, and the party wants to maintain a rapport with the AIADMK to ensure the support of its legislators.

Except for one vacancy, caused by the death of the Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, the TN Assembly has 135 AIADMK MLAs, 89 DMK legislators, DMK’s ally Indian National Congress has eight and IUML 1 member. In the Lok Sabha, the AIADMK is the third largest party with 37 members, behind the BJP and the Congress, and it has 13 members in the Rajya Sabha.

Sources indicated that the Central BJP leadership has got an assurance from Sasikala that the AIADMK would support the BJP nominees, and she also believes there will be a smooth transition of power to her from Panneerselvam.

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