Today's Paper

MDMK unhappy at not being invited

CHENNAI March 30. National Democratic Alliance partners in the State are realigning themselves over the issue of inaction by the Centre following the arrest of the MDMK general secretary, Vaiko, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, in July last, and over a confusion surrounding two of the three parties - the PMK and the MDMK - not attending today's meeting of alliance partners in New Delhi.

Though the official reason advanced by the parties is that the meeting was unscheduled, the fact remains that the Union Environment Minister and senior DMK leader, T.R.Baalu, chose to stay back in the capital, when a DMK-initiated fast against Mr.Vaiko's arrest was held in Tamil Nadu. Also, one MDMK Minister rushed to New Delhi last night, after participating in the hunger strike. He could not attend the meet, as he was not invited.

While the PMK is firmly with the BJP, it is the MDMK — a onetime staunch ally of the BJP — which is moving away. MDMK leaders and cadres are disappointed at the Centre's submission in the Supreme Court on Saturday that Mr.Vaiko's speech at a public meeting near Madurai in June last constituted an act of terrorism under the POTA.

But the MDMK Minister in the Union Government, M.Kannappan, felt that nothing much should be read into the counter. ``Only when the case comes up for hearing in the (Supreme) Court, a clear picture of the Centre's stand, conveyed in its affidavit, will be known from their arguments. After that, the future course of action will be decided." The Minister declined to comment on the party not being invited for the NDA meet.

However, the MDMK presidium chairman, L.Ganesan, said in Thanjavur, that he would discuss with Mr.Vaiko the future course of action on Monday. After this, he would meet the DMK president, M.Karunanidhi, to explain the MDMK stand on both the issues.

In effect, it is the MDMK's continuance in the alliance, which has become untenable now. With the DMK demanding the repeal of the POTA, the MDMK is left with no alternative but to toe the DMK line. Incidentally, there is no reaction from the MDMK camp on the DMK demand. Since visitors are barred at the Vellore jail on Sundays, the MDMK will have to now wait till Monday to arrive at a decision.

Issue exaggerated: PMK

But the PMK founder, S.Ramadoss said that the issue of not being invited to attend today's meet was being blown out of proportion. ``I checked with the Prime Minister's Office and the NDA convener, George Fernandes. It was not an NDA meet; it was called by the BJP president, M.Venkaiah Naidu, and an invitation was extended to NDA leaders and MPs who were in station,'' he said, when asked if the PMK was kept out. But as there was no PMK MP in New Delhi, the party went unrepresented,'' he said. Dr. Ramadoss affirmed that his party's support for the BJP-led coalition at the Centre continued and that he had full faith in the Prime Minister, A.B.Vajpayee. On the DMK demand to repeal the POTA, he said that his party was of the firm view that the Act, meant to curb terrorism, should not be misused. ``We are not for repealing the Act. The Centre should ensure that it is not misused.''

However, the party would support any decision that the NDA takes on the POTA issue, he added.

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