N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
AIADMK chief Jayalalitha Jayaram put the ball back
in the Congress-Tamil Maanila Congress's court on Tuesday, offering them
both 45 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu, and hinting at
most of the remaining 20 seats in Pondicherry.
to newsmen at her party headquarters, Jayalalitha also
offered the Congress, the two-and-half year rule that
the AIADMK was now entitled to in Pondicherry, as per
the rotational agreement signed with the PMK in
Jayalalitha's announcement assumes significance in
the light of TMC chief G K Moopanar's statement
earlier in the day, to declare his party's decision on
the alliance question before the day is out. "We have
been holding talks only with Moopanar even on behalf
of the Congress," Jayalalitha said, passing on the
onus of decision-making back to the TMC chief.
While the TMC is divided still on taking up the
AIADMK offer, the Congress has been pushed into a
quandary by Jayalalitha's offer of more seats in
Pondicherry and also passing on the benefit of
possible chief ministership accruing to her party in
the Union territory. "The Congress will have to choose
between basic principles of opposing the PMK's
participation in the alliance, and its willingness to
accept the PMK as a 'junior partner', if that is the
term," says a senior AIADMK leader.
There is however, resentment within the Tamil Nadu
Congress, over the 10 seats that the party is likely
to get, after earmarking 35 for the TMC in the state.
"It is not worth the trouble of aligning with the
AIADMK," says a senior party leader adding, "It is
however for the high command to decide, but after
taking into consideration, our basic stand on the PMK
issue, given the latter's pro-LTTE stand."
In an obvious reference to the PMK pact, Jayalalitha
also clarified that the no party should take offence
to the AIADMK concluding alliance talks with others.
She also claimed that the delay caused by 'some
parties' have demoralised the AIADMK cadres, and the
leadership would have to take measures to re-energise
them before the elections.
Jayalalitha also took exception to the communist
parties going to the media on their demands for a
total of 32 seats in Tamil Nadu. "They should have
spoken to me directly, and I do not want to reply to
them through the media," she said. Referring to this,
however, a CPI-M leader referred to the induction of the
PMK without consultations, "about which, we learnt
only from media reports".
Indications are that Jayalalitha is waiting for the
TMC-Congress decision before reviving the stalled
talks with the communist parties. Though Jayalalitha
said the DMK's revived invitation to the TMC, as
made out by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on Monday,
was caused by fears of losing the elections, TMC
sources now claim that the AIADMK requires the party
as much as any other. "It is this that has forced
Jayalalitha to up the stakes, and we would not be
surprised if the AIADMK offers the Congress-TMC
combine all of the 20 assembly seats in Pondicherry,"
says a TMC leader, without committing the party as yet
to the AIADMK combine.
State Congress leaders also see in Jayalalitha's new
offer, an open bid to divide the Congress and the TMC.
"By seemingly addressing all our concerns on the Pondy
and PMK fronts, Jayalalitha has pushed the TMC into
choosing between the Congress and the AIADMK-PMK
combine. Implied in Jayalalitha's offer is all 45
seats in Tamil Nadu for the TMC, should the Congress
still opt out," says he, adding, "It is now left to
Moopanar to decide, as the Congress high command has
always been saying on the alliance issue."
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