Tuesday, Mar 26, 2002
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By V. Jayanth
CHENNAI, MARCH 25. The DMK's announcement, severing its links with the BJP in Tamil Nadu, could well trigger a political realignment in the State. But it will be a long-drawn process.
The State unit of the BJP and the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee have reacted swiftly to the ``unilateral announcement'', which, however, made it clear that the DMK remained part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance at the Centre.
The State BJP president, S.P. Kirubanidhi, said his party would not be affected by the decision and being a national organisation, it would act on that basis. The party would function as ``constructive opposition'' in the State and provide ``issue-based support'' to the AIADMK Government.
Speaking at Paramakudi today, the State general secretary, L. Ganesan, said the party wanted ``friendly ties'' with all parties_it was ``grateful'' to those who were supporting the NDA Government at the Centre and was ``friendly'' with the others.
Quick to react to the significant political development was the vocal TNCC president, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, who said: ``We welcome the DMK decision to sever ties with the State BJP. But we will be happier if the DMK quits the NDA at the Centre as well''. But the DMK was not in a hurry to push this issue beyond a point. Party seniors explained that there was no such thing as a State NDA, though there was an electoral understanding among many parties. For instance, the MDMK was part of the NDA at the Centre but not of the DMK-led alliance in the State. The PMK, which walked out of the NDA and aligned with the AIADMK for the last election, returned to the fold last year and was now part of the DMK-led front. They argued that leaving the BJP out of the front made no difference. The DMK's alliance was only at the Centre and its dealings would be only with the national leadership.
What the DMK took yesterday was described as a ``logical step'' in the wake of the warmth in the ties between the AIADMK and the BJP. The process of ``estrangement'', according to DMK sources, began within a month of the May 2001 election. The show of solidarity at last Saturday's launch of the `annadhanam' scheme by the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, was perhaps the proverbial last straw on the camel's back.
Even now, the DMK is not thinking of ``extreme steps''. Party seniors say they will leave it to the Prime Minister and NDA leader, A.B. Vajpayee, to decide on the future course of action. They concede that ``visible strains'' have developed in the ties and unless the central leadership does something to sort out the mess, things may reach a point of no return - for no fault of the DMK. For the Congress and the Left parties, this seemed a welcome development. They have been extremely uncomfortable with the AIADMK and drifted away from the ruling party both because of the ``treatment meted out'' to them and the increasing bonhomie between the AIADMK and the BJP. They will be delighted if the DMK walks out of the NDA and assumes leadership of a `secular front' in Tamil Nadu.
But political analysts feel that the denouement will not come too soon. A fuller realignment may not materialise till the next parliamentary election. The AIADMK will keep up the pressure, subtly, on the BJP to discard the DMK so that it can take its place in the NDA. In the process, the Union Ministers from the DMK could also be edged out.
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