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August 8, 1998


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Jaya threatens BJP over Cauvery issue

N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra may be "forced to review" its support to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre on the Cauvery waters issue, party supremo J Jayalalitha said on Monday morning.

However, the party does not "want to prejudge" issues until the Centre makes its stand officially known in the Supreme Court on August 12, Jayalalitha added.

"We are absolutely clear that the agreement (reached by the four chief ministers in the presence of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on solving the Cauvery waters dispute) has to be totally rejected, lock, stock and barrel," Jayalalitha told the media today. In its place, the original draft scheme has to be placed before the Supreme Court, she added.

As if to drive home her point on the review of support to the BJP, Jayalalitha wanted Parliament to be summoned immediately for considering the Cauvery scheme.

As she pointed out, the original draft scheme provided for the Centre taking over the administration of the Cauvery-based reservoirs whenever the state government faulted on the interim award of the inter-state tribunal.

"The question of coalition politics will arise only if we had been consulted by the BJP leadership before the chief ministers' conference," said Jayalalitha.

The latter had referred to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's observation that the criticism of the prime minister's action by the AIADMK and its allies went against the grain of the coalition, to which they all belonged.

Nor was the scheme approved by the chief ministers placed before the Union Cabinet, "for our ministers to know its contents and pass their comments," Jayalalitha clarified further.

Yes, the prime minister had talked to her on the eve of the August 6 chief ministers' talks, but he did not specify any details.

In this context, she also denied suggestions that Defence Minister George Fernandes and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Jaswant Singh had spoken to her after the chief ministers' meet.

"It's a sellout by Karunanidhi," Jayalalitha said about Tamil Nadu agreeing to the scheme proposed by the prime minister.

The latter had to work for a compromise, but if the chief minister had stuck to his guns on the original draft scheme being notified, as unanimously agreed upon at the all-party meeting convened by him, the Centre would have been forced to notify the same, before the August 12 deadline fixed by the Supreme Court.

"Karunanidhi has bartered away the state's interests to meet his own selfish ends... to save his own skin," Jayalalitha said in a strong criticism of the chief minister.

"Possibly there was a quid pro quo, that's our suspicion, that's our doubt," she added, to the approving nods of her party leaders seated by her side, most of whom face corruption cases launched by the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham government.

In this context, Jayalalitha, however, conceded that she had no proof of a BJP-DMK deal on the Jain Commission action taken report, as she had alleged.

"But that's our suspicion," she said, replying to a specific question whether the BJP had struck a deal with the DMK on the Jain Commission. "I do not say the prime minister spoke to Karunanidhi, maybe, others spoke."

Jayalalitha urged a journalist not to "trivialise" the Cauvery waters issue, which was the lifeline of the state's economic prosperity, by describing it as an "irritant" in the BJP-AIADMK relationship.

She also reiterated her demand for an immediate first information report, arrest and prosecution of Karunanidhi on charges of "abetment, pergury and forgery" flowing from the Jain Commission report, and clarified that her demand for the dismissal of the DMK government still remained.

Though the AIADMK's allies are still said to be with the party on the Cauvery waters dispute, and also in their common opposition to the DMK government, they are not so sure of their stand on Jayalalitha's threat to ''review'' support to the Vajpayee regime.

With little chance of the Centre going back on the agreed scheme, the AIADMK leadership may have to be satisfied with direct action of some kind, if only to ''expose'' the DMK leadership, than to withdraw support to the BJP.

AIADMK rejects Cauvery solution
Cauvery finally breaks through dam of opposing views
It is a victory of the people: Karunanidhi

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