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Partners In Amnesia

The six-party alliance in TN is riddled with contradictions

Partners In Amnesia
Elections spawning strange bedfellows is nothing new. But even as they endorse the dictum, the six-party alliance—between the Jayalalitha-led AIADMK, the BJP, the MDMK led by known LTTE sympathiser V. Gopalsamy, the Subramanian Swamy-led Janata Party, the S. Ramdoss-led PMK and the Vazhapadi Ramamurthy-led Tamil Nadu Rajiv Congress—is becoming an epitome of internal contradictions.

 Tamil Nadu, for long under the influence of the rationalist Dravidian movement, may well provide a toehold for the right-wing Hindutva party. Unlike the DMK-TMC combine which is under pressure to retain its hold over the electorate, the AIADMK has nothing to lose. The party's entire calculation is based on post-poll developments. Battling court cases and with its popularity at a low ebb, the party is willing to accommodate anyone who's willing.

And Jayalalitha sees the BJP as its best bet since it has better chances of coming to power. But before accepting the BJP's overtures, Jayalalitha, according to sources in the party, laid down three conditions—all cases against her either be withdrawn or closed; her party be admitted into the government irrespective of number of seats won; and the DMK regime be dismissed within six months of the new government assuming office—which the BJP, it seems, has accepted.

Ironically, the alliance was formalised the day the Madras High Court pulled up Jayalalitha for the Rs 28.29 crore disinvestment from the fertiliser JV SPIC. Justice Y. Venkatachalam, in his order, observed: "If such acts and conduct on the part of Jayalalitha...are allowed to continue, it will not only create an indelible stigma on the system of flour-ishing democracy but will also bombard the entire economic structure of the country...."

Says DMK general secretary and education minister K. Anbazhagan: "The high court indicts her for the case filed against her by new-found friend Swamy; she has both Vazhapadi—who cried from rooftops against Lankan Tamils—as well as LTTE supporter V. Gopalsamy in her faction. She accuses UF of being a forum of about 15 parties. The BJP-led front has more parties—in UP alone they've four partners (that all are defectors is a different issue)—the Sena in Maharashtra, Patnaik Jr's party in Orissa, Lakshmi Parvathi in AP, Mamata in West Bengal, Samata in Bihar, HVP in Haryana, Akalis in Punjab and now this corruption queen and her team of four parties."

 Moreover, all alliance partners have led agitations against Jayalalitha's AIADMK regime. Subramanian Swamy and Gopalsamy have been bitter foes. When Gopalsamy was expelled from the DMK in '93, he accused the former of conspiring his exit. The IB's message to the state government saying the "LTTE is planning to eliminate Karunanidhi to pave the way for Gopalsamy's ascension" was seen as Swamy's handiwork. In meeting after meeting, Gopalsamy alleged that Karunanidhi fell prey to Swamy's game. He also called Swamy "a CIA agent and a running dog of American imperialism". The latter in turn called Gopalsamy an LTTE stooge.

The PMK has all along maintained that "Jayalalitha is a pale version of the BJP and she has no concern for backward communities and the minorities". Its major plank is to forge a broader alliance between the most backward classes and minorities and it has projected itself as the most radical political formation. The day its founder leader Ramdoss decided to align with the AIADMK, there was a split in the party. The president and leader of the legislative group and a team of senior leaders led a revolt and expelled the others from the party for aligning with "the enemies of the Tamil people".Interestingly, Ramdoss has been the most vocal supporter of LTTE supremo Prabhakaran and has been agitating for lifting the ban against LTTE.

Then there's former TNCC(I) president V. Ramamurthy, who quit the Congress along with Arjun Singh raising the "secularism banner". He's also strongly anti-LTTE. In fact, in '91, he demanded that any party with covert or overt links with LTTE be banned. He's accused Jayalalitha of being the most communal and corrupt politican of independent India. The BJP is thrilled to have him in his fold. Says a senior leader: "Now we have a Congressman not only accepting us but also sharing the political platfrom with us. Vazhapadi has effectively removed the stain of untouchability from us."

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