Saturday, Sep 14, 2002
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By Our Tamil Nadu Bureau
The move, which allows for a working majority, is in contrast with the AIADMK strategy in dealing with Opposition MLAs and MPs aspiring to join the ruling party.
Although five TMC MLAs, opposed to the Congress merger, and two PMK MPs are known to have knocked at the doors of the AIADMK, Ms. Jayalalithaa is keeping them waiting, till an "opportune time".
With the Congress withdrawing support to the AIADMK in the Chennai Corporation Council, the ruling party roped in five Congress councillors including the floor leader, P. Vetrivel, who has been waiting for over a year now for an invitation from Ms.Jayalalithaa. The urgency for the present round of admission arises from the fact that the AIADMK requires a simple majority to push through resolutions. Recently, the Council witnessed violent clashes over passing of resolutions. Mr. Vetrivel, till recently a confidant of the AICC secretary and former TMC president, G.K.Vasan, justified his joining the AIADMK, saying he was opposed to TMC's reunion with the Congress. Interestingly, Mr. Vetrivel attended last month's Madurai rally held to mark the merger.
Reacting to the defection of five of the 16 Congress councillors, Mr.Vasan said, "it is unhealthy politics and the people will teach the AIADMK a fitting lesson". Meanwhile, the Congress councillors met at the party headquarters and elected Royapuram Mano their floor leader.
With the addition of seven councillors to its strength of 69, the AIADMK is just two short of a simple majority in the 155-member Council.
The AIADMK, which has been offering support to the BJP-led Government at the Centre on some issues, could get quid pro quo assistance from that party, which has three councillors.
With two of its councillors crossing over, the strength of the main opposition DMK has dropped to 56. Sources say the ruling party is trying to woo more councillors from the Congress and the DMK, besides the MDMK, the PMK and the MGR Kazhagam, which have one member each in the Council.
The AIADMK's strategy is different in the case of the PMK MPs, as it does not want to act in a hurry because the decision will have implications for the relations with the BJP. In effect, the defection of the PMK MPs would cut into the support-strength of the NDA Government. Keeping the MPs, P.T. Elangovan and Dorai, waiting would also keep in check the PMK, whose criticism of the ruling party is becoming increasingly strident, party sources said. Although it is assured of the AIADMK's issue-based support, the BJP prefers to have the backing of the PMK in full strength.
The AIADMK realises that the BJP needs the DMK too at this point, and it would like to help the NDA Government from a distance. And admitting PMK defectors is not the best way to do so.
As for the TMC MLAs, the AIADMK strategy seems to be to use them to embarrass the Congress MLAs, particularly the former TMC MLAs who opted for the merger. At least one or two Assembly sessions will have to pass before Ms. Jayalalithaa thinks of admitting them into the AIADMK.
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