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Jaya to give wish list to BJP

George Iype in Kochi | January 19, 2004 20:13 IST
Last Updated: January 20, 2004 13:04 IST

The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is preparing to put forward a set of demands before the Bharatiya Janata Party for chalking out an alliance before the Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP in Tamil Nadu suddenly looks lonely, as all its allies -- the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Pattali Makkal Katchi and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam -- have left it.

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But the BJP's move to rope in AIADMK as an alliance partner in the National Democratic Alliance has so far received a lukewarm response from the party general secretary and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

Last week, she issued a statement saying the AIADMK may fight the polls alone. Then, on Saturday, BJP national executive committee member Sukumaran Nambiar met Jayalalithaa, apparently to begin the process of "alliance talks".

When contacted, Nambiar said it was a courtesy call. But Jayalalithaa later said, "Politics is all about changes and flexibility."

Now that the Congress and DMK have a tie-up, BJP leaders admit that the party has to bank on Jayalalithaa.

"The AIADMK is our natural alley in Tamil Nadu at present. Look at some of the causes that the Jayalalithaa government has taken up in the last two years," a state BJP leader told rediff.com on Monday.

He was referring to Jayalalithaa's decision to ban forced conversions in Tamil Nadu and support the Centre's decision to ban cow slaughter in the country.

But despite these positive signals, Jayalalithaa is silent about a tie-up.

An AIADMK leader said Jayalalithaa has some demands, which include:

- Rs 700 crore from the National Calamity Emergency Fund to meet the severe drinking water shortage in Chennai. Already, Jayalalithaa has written to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee saying money is urgently needed to rescue Chennai from "a calamity of a severe nature".

"We have absolutely no means of financing this massive operation to rescue Chennai city. It will be extremely difficult for us to undertake on our own, the emergency operations, coming on the heels of the severe drought in the state," the letter said.

- Immediate measures from the Central government to extradite Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. Last year, the Tamil Nadu assembly adopted a resolution asking the Centre to press for Prabhakaran extradition from Sri Lanka.

- A promise to take action against Sun TV, owned by late commerce minister Murasoli Maran's family, for alleged economic offences and investigations into the past actions of former DMK ministers.

- Implementing the constitutional safeguards for 50 per cent reservations for backward castes in states like Tamil Nadu.

According to AIADMK leaders, Jayalalithaa would go for a tie-up only if the BJP meets these demands.

Ironically, it was some of her demands that led to the fall of the Vajpayee government in 1999.

During the 1998 Lok Sabha election, the AIADMK was the first political party outside its traditional allies to join hands with the BJP.

But almost every month, Jayalalithaa placed demands that Vajpayee had a hard time fulfilling.

One of her major demand was the dismissal of the then Karunanidhi government in Tamil Nadu and resignation of Defence Minister George Fernandes after sacked navy chief Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat alleged large-scale corruption in major defence deals.

BJP leaders admit that if the AIADMK insists on its demands even before any tie-up, the party would be forced to fight a lonely battle in Tamil Nadu.

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