Another Jaya somersault lands AIADMK in BJP govt
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
In a dramatic reversal of her public stand for a third time in as many days, All Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazaham supremo J Jayalalitha today announced that her party and its allies, the Pattal Makkal Kattchi and the Thamizhaga Rajiv Congress would join a Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre.
While the three-member Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazagham has stuck to its pre-poll decision of not joining the government, the BJP seems to have stood by its decision of not accommodating Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy. The two parties will, however, extend outside support to the Vajpayee government.
The decision was announced in Madras by Jayalalitha after talks with senior BJP leader and former Union finance minister Jaswant Singh at her Poes Garden home.
Singh was in Madras as a party emissary, to pacify Jayalalitha after her anti-BJP outbursts at a media conference on Saturday.
However, he did not seem to have touched upon the substantive AIADMK demand for the dismissal of the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham government in Tamil Nadu.
Following the talks, Jayalalitha will attend the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government's swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.
Jayalaltiha said that, during the course of talks with Singh this afternoon, Vajpayee rang her up, inviting her to participate in the swearing-in ceremony.
"He also asked me to reconsider the AIADMK's decision not to
participate in the ministry. I informed him that I would discuss
the issue with my colleagues and allies. Following this, I convened a meeting of senior partymen including V R Nedunchezhian. I also contacted MDMK leader Vaiko and PMK founder-leader Dr S Ramadoss who are in the city and spoke over telephone to Mr Vazhappady Ramamurthy who is in Delhi," she added.
After the talks, the AIADMK, the PMK and the TRC
decided to participate in a BJP government, she said.
She parried a question on Dr Swamy's exclusion from the
proposed government. "Mr Singh has a flight to catch to Delhi,"
she quipped, when the media persisted with the question.
Jayalalitha also expressed satisfaction over the inclusion of
issues relating to her six-point 'special package' for Tamil Nadu
in the draft 'national agenda' formulated by the BJP and its allies.
Singh said the decks were cleared last night for talks between the
BJP and the AIADMK after Vajpayee rang up Jayalalitha to thank her for sending the letters of support.
Replying to a question, Singh said all the issues raised by Jayalalitha pertaining to Tamil Nadu had been 'appropriately included' in the draft national agenda.
Asked whether any decision over the allocation of portfolios was reached at his meeting with Jayalalitha, Singh said ''it was the prerogative of the prime minister''.
He expressed the hope that the MDMK would soon reverse its
decision and join a BJP-led government.
Vajpayee and party president Lal Kishinchand Advani are now expected to visit Jayalalitha at her Madras home soon after the swearing-in ceremony -- precisely as two earlier prime ministers Chandra Shekhar and P V Narasimha Rao, apart from an out-of-power Rajiv Gandhi had done while in the company of the AIADMK.
Indications are that the AIADMK will get two Cabinet berths, and two posts of ministers of state. The names being mentioned are those of AIADMK parliamentary group leader G Swaminathan and former assembly speaker Sedappati R Muthiah for Cabinet posts, and former state minister V Sathyamurthy and Rajya Sabha deputy leader R Kumar for ministers of state.
Of them, Kumar, a chartered accountant, is expected to take up an assignment in the finance ministry.
The AIADMK leadership feels it may come in handy in getting to the bottom of the 'Indian Bank scam', allegedly involving some senior leaders of the rival Tamil Maanila Congress. It will also help ensure 'just follow-up' in cases involving AIADMK personalities. The AIADMK may also get the Lok Sabha deputy speaker's post.
Apart from the AIADMK nominees, Thamizhaga Rajiv Congress leader Ramamurthy is expected to get a Cabinet berth. PMK leader 'Dalit' Ezhilmalai is likely to be nominated a minister of state, though there is an undercurrent of resentment in the party as to how a non-Vanniar could be the first and only minister of what is essentially a Vanniar party.
Her allies resent in general the way Jayalalitha has conducted herself in the past week or so, pushing the alliance to a precipice, then making unwarranted criticisms against the BJP leadership even while extending the 'olive branch' of support, and finally making another somersault with her decision to join a BJP government at the Centre.
''The maverick in her has found a national audience, but that can also send out signals to the BJP that the AIADMK alliance may after all be untrustworthy, whatever be our approach from now on,'' says an alliance partner.
A local BJP leader adds, ''Jayalalitha is like a 'pampered child' and her whims are limited, and mostly symbolic which appeal to her circle. Our leadership may have to learn the trick from the Congress.''
Additional reportage: UNI
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