| AB Vajpayee
New Delhi, Sept. 3: The petrol pump allotment and LPG dealership scam that rocked Parliament early last month has acquired a different spin in Tamil Nadu — an LTTE link.
While the BJP was the beneficiary in many states, in Tamil Nadu it was NDA ally Pattali Makkal Katchi that cornered lion’s share.
ADMK chief Jayalalithaa feels that a large number of LTTE sympathisers have bagged the outlets especially in coastal areas. Sources said the Tamil Nadu chief minister has drawn the attention of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to this when she met him here last week.
Jayalalithaa, who was here last week to attend the Cauvery River Authority talks convened by the Prime Minister, said Tamil Nadu has been hit by terrorism and the LTTE has spread its net wide and far in the state.
Sources said the Centre — already embarrassed by the disclosure of the pump scam and with both MDMK and the PMK being its allies — is unlikely to take note of the ADMK chief’s complaint. She had got MDMK chief Vaiko, a staunch supporter of the NDA arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, for his alleged LTTE links. Vaiko is still languishing in a Tamil Nadu jail.
Jayalalithaa, who had addressed a press conference here on August 28, said she had written to the Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani asking them to sack the two MDMK ministers in the Union council of ministers as their party chief had publicly expressed support to an outlawed organisation.
Asked what the response of the Prime Minister was, she merely said: “Just wait and see.”
PMK sources, however, rubbished the charge that LTTE sympathisers have found employment in the pump and LPG outlets and said Jayalalithaa is suffering from LTTE phobia. They said though PMK’s E. Ponnuswamy was minister of state for petroleum and natural gas between October 1999 and February 2001, he had no say in allotments of pumps or LPG dealership. The allotments were done by the state selection boards.
PMK sources, however, could not explain how a small ally of the BJP got as many as 11 allotments in Tamil Nadu. Over half-a-dozen allotments were made to relatives of the PMK leader.