Union Minister and BJP’s Tamil Nadu in-charge Piyush Goyal along with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami waves after AIADMK signed an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, in Chennai. (PTI Photo/R Senthil Kumar)

Modi Gets Partners in Indian State Where His Party Has One Member

(Bloomberg) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has formed an alliance with regional parties in Tamil Nadu state to expand its influence in the southern region before the general elections.

The BJP on Tuesday entered into an electoral understanding with All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the third-largest party in the current lower house of Parliament, and a smaller party Pattali Makkal Katchi, to fight elections together in Tamil Nadu that sends 39 lawmakers to 543-member lower house of parliament or Lok Sabha for which elections are due by May.

Forging alliances, particularly in southern states, are crucial for Modi to retain power as his popularity recedes. The Hindu-nationalist party, which renewed a partnership in the western state of Maharashtra on Monday, triumphed in just one of the nine seats it decided to fight in Tamil Nadu, home to the Indian factories of Hyundai Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co., in 2014. Electoral gains in the south may help BJP make up for any losses in the northern and western states, where it lost power in local elections.

“India is returning to coalition politics,” said Harish Ramaswamy, a political analyst and professor of political science at Karnataka University. “Political situation will be clearer once parties finalized their alliances.”

In December, BJP lost control of three key states -- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh-- and in May, failed to form a government in Karnataka.

Modi’s BJP will fight in five seats with the rest going to AIADMK and PMK, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam announced the seat-sharing arrangement in state capital Chennai on Tuesday.

In 2014 elections, AIADMK swept elections in the state by winning 37 seats, while BJP won one. AIADMK and BJP were not alliance partners then. The latest development comes a day after the BJP renewed its alliance with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. It has already finalized seat adjustments for Bihar.

In Tamil Nadu, the alliance won’t be of much help much to BJP, Ramaswamy said. “The BJP will face difficulties to make inroads there,” as AIADMK has its own problem and don’t have strong leaders following the death of the popular Jayaram Jayalalithaa, he said.

The Congress party and regional Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, or DMK are likely to form an alliance and will be better placed, Ramaswamy said.

Congress party is also working with small regional parties to build state-specific coalitions. Two powerful regional parties -- Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party -- have announced that they will fight elections together in the country’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP had forged an alliance with as many as 28 parties in 2014, even though it got enough seats on its own for a majority. The Congress had 10 partners in the last elections.

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