Today's Paper

Maitreyan AIADMK candidate for RS

CHENNAI, DEC. 27. In a clear snub to the TMC, its closest ally, the AIADMK today nominated its own candidate for the Rajya Sabha vacancy caused by the death of the TMC founder, G.K. Moopanar.

Announcing that its medical wing president, Dr. V. Maitreyan, would be the candidate for the Rajya Sabha seat, the party general secretary, Ms. Jayalalithaa, effectively pre-empted the TMC from staking claim and fielding its president and Moopanar's son, Mr. G.K. Vasan.

The TMC, which was debating the pros and cons of approaching the AIADMK for the seat, appeared upset by the unilateral decision by Ms. Jayalalithaa. In the words of a senior TMC leader, ``This move of the AIADMK should inexorably bring us closer to the Congress. The leadership should realise that we are not wanted by the AIADMK.''

Apparently, the AIADMK was piqued at the manner in which the TMC had been striking an ``independent line'' of late. In Pondicherry, the TMC continued its backing to the Congress-led Ministry despite the AIADMK's withdrawal of support. In Tamil Nadu, the TMC joined the Left in organising protest against the price hikes effected by the government. For the AIADMK, it was not enough that the TMC was a trusted ally. The party had to be an obedient ally too.

The TNCC president, Mr. E.V.K.S. Elangovan, described the AIADMK decision as ``regrettable.'' After having endorsed the TMC's claim to the seat held by Moopanar, he said: ``We expected the AIADMK to honour the memory of Moopanar by giving the seat to his son, Mr. G.K. Vasan.''

Although a section of the TMC still believes that there is some scope for trying to persuade the AIADMK to give up the seat, others feel that it is serious about the candidature of Dr. Maitreyan.

The pro-Congress lobby in the TMC interprets the situation as indicative of the need to build an alternative to both the Dravidian parties. TMC sources say the feedback from the cadres during Mr. Vasan's tour of districts was that the party should move closer to the Congress. ``They are waiting for the right time. And this could be the right time.''

The TMC had remained `indecisive' about the seat. It had neither approached the AIADMK, nor announced clearly that it would not seek this seat.

If the TMC leadership is not able to decide, a ``movement'' towards the Congress could begin from January. At the moment, the party is staying together because of the AIADMK and the ``silence of the graveyard'' - some of the MLAs are waiting to walk over to the AIADMK. All of them are bothered only about the Anti- Defection Act.

The party will try to put up a brave front and claim ``this was expected''. Mr. Vasan said in Namakkal that the TMC did not expect the seat to be allotted to it. But till this morning, there were plans to seek the seat. Unfortunately, there was no live contact with Ms. Jayalalithaa and she acted swiftly to silence the TMC.

Now, the TMC will have to decide on its attitude towards the AIADMK in the byelection to three Assembly constituencies. As the Congress is likely to field candidates against the AIADMK, the TMC will have to choose between the two.

Dr. Maitreyan is known for his links with the BJP. Indeed, he had defected from the BJP after the AIADMK severed ties with it. Sending him to New Delhi could help the AIADMK rebuild bridges with the BJP.

Although he was fielded in the Assembly election, Dr. Maitreyan lost. He helped the party in organising medical camps in the run-up to the Assembly election.