N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
With the All India Anna DMK acting tough on Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, the Congress and the Left seem to have concluded that Jayalalitha is preparing to sideline, if not jettison them both, if only to keep a line open to the Bharatiya Janata Party in the post-poll scenario.
It is with these fears in mind, sources say, Congress spokesman S Jaipal Reddy revived the anti-BJP line at his press briefing in New Delhi on Wednesday, even as Communist leaders in Madras too took a similar line.
If both Jaipal Reddy and the Left leaders in Tamil Nadu said that defeating the
communal, anti-people BJP-NDA in the assembly elections was their prime concern, they were also seeking to fix the responsibility for the same on the AIADMK. "We are not for a Third Front now in Tamil Nadu," said a senior Communist Party of India leader. "Or, at least that's what we hope for," he said.
By striking a unilateral pact with the Pattali Makkal Katchi on Pondicherry and offering fewer seats than acceptable to the Congress in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK, according to state Congress leaders, may have created "conditions for us to leave."
Similar sentiments are expressed by the Left parties, whose leaders in private have taken exception to Jayalalitha calling 'unethical and unacceptable' their behaviour in allegedly leaking to the media the contents of their joint letter to her.
"Obviously, she found our coming together unethical and unacceptable, but stopped short of saying that," said a Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader, pointing out how her offer of six seats each to the two Communist parties in Tamil Nadu "hinted at her true intentions." If proof was needed, it came from her unilateral seat-sharing pact with the PMK, both in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, knowing full well her commitments to the Congress, the Left and the Tamil Maanila Congress.
It is with this in mind that Congress general secretary Gulam Nabi Azad urged the AIADMK to choose between long-standing allies and new friends. "It may have meant the PMK, on the face of it, but also applied to the BJP, with which the AIADMK chief is believed to have opened a line of communication through journalist-friend Cho
S Ramaswamy," a Congress leader said.
"Cho may have now succeeded in taking the TMC closer to the BJP camp, through the AIADMK route, than anyone had succeeded when Moopanar was an ally of the ruling DMK, which in turn is now a part of the BJP-NDA at the Centre," he added.
To that end, a section of the PMK leadership too has started questioning the wisdom of Jayalalitha's willingness to delink Pondicherry from Tamil Nadu. "Such a course will help the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, even while going back on her commitment to us on Pondicherry. By offering us chief ministership for the first two-and-half-years in the Union Territory, Jayalalitha had also willy-nilly agreed to ensure our return to power.
That unwritten promise has now been jeopardised by her permission for the Congress, Left and the TMC to float a Third Front in Pondicherry, which has greater winning chances in the Union Territory."
However, AIADMK sources refute the charges. "Our aim is to save as much of the anti-BJP alliance as possible, taking the ground realities into consideration," said a senior leader. "While the Congress does have a primacy of political place in Pondicherry, it is the TMC and the PMK that count in Tamil Nadu," he said, referring to Jayalalitha's repeated assertion on forming a government of her own in Tamil Nadu, "which would require more seats for us."
As for PMK's reservations, he said: "No non-NDA front can form a government in Pondicherry without help from the AIADMK-PMK combine, even if there is a Third Front in the Union Territory."
Both AIADMK and TMC leaders also refer to the Left and Congress experience in states like Kerala and West Bengal, while arguing the case in favour of de-linking Pondicherry from Tamil Nadu.
As for the Communist grouse on seat-sharing, TMC sources point out, how the national
leadership of the CPI and CPM was "not inclined to let Moopanar negotiate for them, too, in the early stages. Even today, their national leaderships are not ready to consider a Third Front, hoping possibly that the TMC's exit from the AIADMK front would ensure greater share of seats for them both."
In this context, the TMC source also refers to the Congress keeping the party out from the early rounds of alliance talks with the AIADMK. "Only when the Pondy-PMK issue cropped up, did the Congress realise its imminent marginalisation in regional politics, and let Moopanar handle all negotiations with the AIADMK."
Adds the AIADMK source: "It's the Congress that wanted its share of seats combined with that for the TMC. We never said that the Congress should be given only 10 seats out of 45 allotted to both parties in Tamil Nadu. We have only expressed our overall limitation in offering them seats and it is for them to sort out their respective shares."
For all this, however, a Congress leader from the state feels strongly that "it's time, both the Congress and the TMC chose between communalism and secularism, now that it is becoming increasingly clear that the AIADMK is going soft on the BJP, with the post-poll scenario in mind. For the latter, she seems to be ensuring the decimation of the non-BJP nationalist vote-bank in the region, even while wanting to substitute the DMK-MDMK with the AIADMK-PMK as the regional force, to reckon with, in future."
That way, adds he: "It is now for Moopanar to decide, if he wants to go soft on communalism after compromising on corruption -- the two issues that he said were close to this heart. In which case, he could have stopped with communalism, as the BJP was
known to be keen on doing direct business with the TMC for long in Tamil Nadu, and jettisoned corruption at the very least."
AIADMK offer insufficient: Congress
TMC bids to save alliance with AIADMK
Indecision still haunts TMC, Congress
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