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PMK to stay in NDA Government

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI DEC. 25. The Pattali Makkal Katchi today decided to stay on in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government at the Centre as the coalition had ``not deviated'' from the mutually-agreed National Agenda for Governance.

The PMK, however, urged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA to decide on its main demands - declaring Tamil and all other languages in the Eighth Schedule official languages, resolving the Cauvery row, convening the Cauvery River Authority and granting constitutional protection for the present level of job reservation to weaker sections. Though the demands had been made time and again, these did not receive the required attention.

These demands ``do not need a long time to be met;'' these could be fulfilled ``even a month before the elections,'' the PMK leader, S. Ramadoss, said.

He dismissed the talk of early elections as ``mere speculation.'' He was confident that elections were ``10 months away.''

Though the PMK leaders assailed ``misuse of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Tamil Nadu,'' the party made no demands on continuance or implementation of the legislation.

A resolution, adopted at a meeting of the political high-level committee of the party here said, it was decided to continue support to the NDA as the Prime Minister, A.B.Vajpayee, had ``not given in'' to the demands of the BJP's sister organisations and had been ``protecting'' the coalition. Praising Mr. Vajpayee, the resolution said that because of this quality he was regarded as a ``more attractive coalition leader.''

The PMK has five members in the 13th Lok Sabha.

The meeting was prompted by the December 20 decision of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) to withdraw its Ministers from the Union Ministry and extend issue-based support to the NDA.

Dr. Ramadoss refused to be drawn into a discussion on the merits of the DMK's decision and maintained that his party's ``friendship with all parties would continue.'' The PMK would not ask the DMK to reconsider the decision after its president, M. Karunanidhi, had made the party's stand clear.

The PMK also demanded that Tamil be declared a classical language, that the Mandal Commission recommendations be implemented and that an announcement be made of reservation for the weaker sections in the private sector. The party charged that the ``interest'' evinced in trying to secure reservation for the economically weaker sections was not showed in implementing the Mandal Commission recommendations. Also, the State Governments should be given the power to make amendments to decide on the limit of reservation, depending on local situations.

Cauvery row

On the Cauvery issue, the PMK pointed out that though the Tribunal was expected to announce its final verdict soon, even its interim verdict given in 1991 had not been implemented. The NDA Government should not sully its reputation, remaining inactive as did the earlier Union Governments. Farmers in the Cauvery delta had been facing drought for the third successive year. The current samba crop was in danger of wilting. As a constituent of the NDA and at an all-party meeting, the PMK had demanded the release of water from dams in Karnataka. ``But the Cauvery River Authority has not met so far,'' the resolution said. The angry farmers were resorting to road blocks and courting arrest.

The PMK said it was only natural for a regional party to seek resolution of issues facing the State and those affecting its people. Only if a political party resolved the pressing issues and gained rights for the people would they continue to support it. The demands that regional parties made to the Centre from time to time could be justified since it was akin to a coalition at the Centre seeking to fulfil its limited common agenda, the PMK said.

Another NDA partner, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, will announce its decision on continuance in the NDA on December 29.

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