Jayalalithaa criticizes Chidambaram, doesn’t rule out UPA tie-up

Jayalalithaa criticizes Chidambaram, doesn’t rule out UPA tie-up

New Delhi: Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa has not ruled out support for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and in the process kept her political rival Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a member of the ruling coalition, on the edge.

At the same time, she did not pull her punches against her political rivals in the Congress. Jayalalithaa, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) chief, who was in the national capital for the first time after winning the assembly elections with a landslide majority, however, alleged that home minister P. Chidambaram was elected to Parliament through fraudulent means in 2009 general election.

A political analyst in Tamil Nadu said the AIADMK leader was “deliberately" sending mixed signals to the UPA.

Addressing media persons after her meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his official residence, Jayalalithaa did not rule out a possible alliance with the Congress, to which she had offered support ahead of the 13 April assembly elections.

Asked if she would meet Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, she said: “In such a situation (when the Congress is in alliance with the DMK), it would not be appropriate for me to call on Sonia Gandhi." She, however, added: “If anyone wants my support they have to ask for it."

At the same time, she chose to politically attack Chidambaram, a Lok Sabha member from Tamil Nadu. “Our party has always maintained that Chidambaram’s victory was through fraudulent means...his continuance in the Union council of ministers is untenable," she said.

Chidambaram termed Jayalalithaa’s remarks as “gross contempt of court".

“I have learnt that she has made a statement questioning my election to the Lok Sabha in 2009. She knows that her candidate Raja Kannappan has filed an election petition in the Madras high court which is pending since September 2009. Her statement is, therefore, gross contempt of court," Chidambaram said in a statement.

Similarly, she sought the resignation of DMK leader and Union cabinet minister Dayanidhi Maran—the minister is facing allegations of misuse of office when he served as the telecom minister. Maran allegedly favoured Malaysia’s Maxis Group, which owns a controlling stake in Indian mobile carrier Aircel, in return for which the Malaysian firm invested in his brother’s business. Maran, textile minister in the UPA government, has denied the allegations.

Gnani Sankaran, columnist and a Chennai-based political analyst, said Jayalalithaa’s political strategy is to “demoralize" the DMK. “She is deliberately sending confusing signals. She wants to keep the DMK on tenterhooks to demoralize it," he said, pointing out that there is no possibility of an immediate political alliance between the Congress and the AIADMK.

“First of all, the AIADMK does not have the numbers to keep the UPA in power (AIADMK has nine members and the DMK has 18). But she wants to get closer to the Congress gradually before the next general election."