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Jain Commission report may upset UF applecart

George Iype in New Delhi

The Jain Commission's interim report on Rajiv Gandhi's assassination could destabilise the United Front coalition government yet again.

Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral fears the report, which probes the conspiracy and security lapses that resulted in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in May 1991, could become a major flashpoint between the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Tamil Maanila Congress, the UF partners from Tamil Nadu.

On Friday, Gujral discussed the report with senior home ministry officials led by Home Minister Indrajit Gupta.

Though the Congress has demanded that the report should be tabled in Parliament, Gujral and Gupta have decided that is not possible until the home ministry studies its contents thoroughly.

What worries Gujral is the fact a sizeable section of the report criticises the DMK. That party was in power in Tamil Nadu when LTTE militants used the state as a base to fight for a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka.

The Commission has probed the sequence of events since July 1983 -- when ethnic strife broke out in northern Sri Lanka leading to the establishment of Tamil rebel bases in Tamil Nadu and eventually the Congress leader's murder.

The report probes the threat Rajiv Gandhi confronted after losing office in 1989, indirectly accusing the DMK of aiding and abetting LTTE militants in the country.

It has also accused the DMK of not co-operating with the Commission, which considerably delayed its investigation.

UF leaders fear the report is a timely handle to the TMC, the DMK's partner in Tamil Nadu, to step up its campaign against Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

TMC leaders G K Moopanar and P Chidambaram, who have repeatedly criticised the Karunanidhi government in recent weeks, may now come out openly against its ally after the Jain Commission's report is tabled in Parliament.

Many believe the TMC's campaign against the DMK will force the latter to leave the United Front sooner than later. The DMK nearly withdrew from the UF coalition in July. A fresh onslaught from the Congress and TMC over the Jain report might compel the DMK to quit the Front in a huff.

Prime Minister Gujral could, of course, try and turn the heat on the Congress party. The contents of the report have become a subject of intense debate among Congress leaders as it has questioned many actions of the Narasimha Rao regime. The report alleges that the Rao Cabinet withheld vital documents from the Commission, and had once recommended winding up the probe into Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.

Jain Commission interim report silent on conspiracy angle
Chidambaram, DMK on a collision course

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