TAMIL NADU

`BJP keen on retaining seats'

COIMBATORE, JAN. 25. The State president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), C.P. Radhakrishnan, said today that the party was keen on contesting again from Coimbatore, the Nilgiris, Nagercoil and Pudukottai in the elections to the Lok Sabha.

He, however, told presspersons here that the allocation of seats and nomination of candidates would be done by the national leadership.

(The BJP had won from these constituencies in the last elections and was keen on retaining them. Mr. Radhakrishnan himself won the Coimbatore seat twice — in 1998 and 1999.)

He said the national president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, would hold discussions with the State leaders in Chennai tomorrow on the possibility of the BJP entering into an alliance with the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Stating that Mr. Naidu was scheduled to meet the AIADMK general secretary and Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, in Chennai on January 28, Mr. Radhakrishnan said ``the AIADMK-BJP alliance will sweep all 39 seats in the State. There would be no anti-incumbency factor in Tamil Nadu or against the BJP, as the National Democratic Alliance Government at the Centre has performed well.''

To a question whether the Lok Sabha election might be a referendum on the functioning of the AIADMK Government, he said only national issues were taken into consideration during Parliamentary polls.

On criticism of the BJP trying to align with the AIADMK, which withdrew support to its Government in 1998, Mr. Radhakrishnan said there was nothing wrong in having such an alliance.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) now tied up with the Congress, which withdrew support to the United Front Government over the continuance of the DMK Ministers in the Union Cabinet, in spite of the Jain Commission (probing the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case) report containing some remarks against the DMK. So why should the BJP not strike an alliance with the AIADMK, he asked.

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