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|November 28, 1998||
People are disenchanted with BJP: Jaya
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
The results of the assembly election have shown that the people are "disenchanted with the BJP," AIADMK supremo J Jayalalitha said on Saturday. She will not attend Monday's coordination committee meeting of the BJP-led ruling coalition at Delhi, Jayalalitha told newsmen at Madras airport before flying to Hyderabad with her associate Sasikala Natarajan. Union Law Minister M Thambidurai will represent her at the meeting.
Jayalalitha would not be drawn into any discussion on the future of the Vajpayee government, or on the AIADMK quitting the ruling coalition to join hands with the Congress. She said she would speak her mind at a press meet on her return from Hyderabad next week.
Though Jayalalitha attributed her Hyderabad visit to prior commitments, it was aimed at avoiding Sunday's wedding of MDMK General Secretary Vaiko's son at Madras. She was scheduled to leave for for the Andhra capital on Friday morning, but the trip was postponed following the Supreme Court's dismissal of her plea to stay the corruption cases against her, a day earlier.
Party sources dismiss suggestions that she wanted to avoid an encounter with Defence Minister and coordination committee chairman George Fernandes, who is attending the wedding. "She is aware that Fernandes can visit her at Hyderabad too, if he wanted it. But her receiving Fernandes in Madras while not attending the wedding will not go down well with MDMK cadres," says an AIADMK source.
According to these sources, Jayalalitha is yet to make up her mind on withdrawing support to the Vajpayee government, or backing the Congress, instead. "She will wait for other developments, and also study the voting pattern, before taking a final decision," the source says adding, "We will have to keep our flock together."
Other informed sources claim that Jayalalitha has established telephonic contact with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. "But that by itself does not mean anything, as each one has her political compulsions before deciding to join hands, and try replace the BJP."
These sources, as also AIADMK leaders, assert that Jayalalitha will insist on the dismissal of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu, for her to back a Congress-led dispensation at the Centre."Given the BJP's experience with President K R Narayanan on Bihar, how could the Congress give the AIADMK such an assurance is anybody's guess," say these sources.
Alternatively, the Congress could promise to consider Jayalalitha's request if the AIADMK withdrew support to the Vajpayee government, leading to a fresh mid-term election. "But the results of that election could be a million-dollar question, even for the Congress. And there is no guarantee that the AIADMK will have this decisive role in government-formation, even then."
For the present, Jayalalitha is keeping her fingers crossed. She awaits the Congress Working Committee meeting on Sunday, and the BJP-led coordination committee meet a day later. She is also making an assessment of the assembly election results, which have shown an anti-incumbency tilt.
The AIADMK leadership is also aware of the Congress reluctance at this stage to take the initiative in toppling the Vajpayee government. It is also not very sure of the Left backing the AIADMK in any Congress-led dispensation, against the DMK and the TMC. The Congress, the party leader says, seems to be wanting others to do the 'dirty job' and take the blame, too. "And we have had enough of both."
Says the source: "Jayalalitha's problems are real and imminent. The AIADMK sees the DMK as the villain of the piece -- the court cases relating to her and some of her erstwhile ministerial colleagues. Whoever can rein in the DMK, in whatever way possible, now or later, will have her support. That's her message to the BJP, by boycotting the coordination committee meeting, but sending a proxy at the same time. But there is little comfort anyone can give her at this stage. Or, so it seems."
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