TAMIL NADU

DMK yet to chalk out agitation plan

CHENNAI Nov. 24. The DMK is undecided on which issue to agitate against, even as the Left parties and the Congress have seized the initiative and launched a joint Statewide agitation against the anti-conversion law.

"Our problem now is in choosing which issue to agitate against, because there are so many,'' said the DMK president, M.Karunanidhi. However, party leaders said Mr.Karunanidhi made the remark in a lighter vein and that the leadership was considering the issues that have been "presented on a platter" by the AIADMK Government, including privatisation of bus routes, after the Transport Minister admitted in the Assembly that the corporations were making profit following the fare hike, an across-the-board hike in rates of services, the move to do away with free power to agriculture, the anti-conversion law, the failure to hold elections to primary cooperative societies and retrenchment of temporary workers from many departments.

The Left parties and the Congress have accused the Dravidian party of not being serious about agitating against the anti-conversion law. Though all other issues needed to be fought, the most important one now was the `blatant manner' in which the AIADMK Government sought to please the Sangh Parivar by enacting the anti-conversion law.

They felt that though the DMK was aware of the serious implications of the law, it was keeping quiet because it suited the party. The BJP leadership feels that the anti-conversion law should be in place in all States.

At a time when the recent comments of leaders in the BJP and the DMK seemed to indicate that the relationship between the two parties was on the ascent, party functionaries were surprised at yesterday's statement of the BJP secretary, L.Ganesan, that the AIADMK was moving closer to the BJP and the DMK was moving away.

Though this may have been true till about a month ago, the fact that the DMK welcomed the Prime Minister, A.B.Vajpayee's stance on the VHP yatra and that the Union Home Minister, L.K.Advani, expressed sentiments similar to that of Mr.Karunanidhi, on the Hinduism issue (that Hinduism was a way of life and not a religion) brought a new thaw in the BJP - DMK relations.

Also, the DMK is grateful to the support the BJP-led NDA Government extended for the treatment of the Union Minister, Murasoli Maran.

The DMK justified it further saying that the party had an alliance with the BJP only at the national level and not at the State level. Hence, Mr.Ganesan's statement did not matter. Some in the party feel that the outburst of the BJP leader, widely regarded as among the few pro-DMK elements in the BJP, was "personal, not political.''