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DMK warms to Advani

Chennai, Nov. 24: Two recent developments have halted the DMK’s drift from the BJP, despite the Sangh parivar’s growing appreciation for the ADMK regime in Tamil Nadu led by Jayalalithaa.

DMK chief M. Karunanidhi seems to be mending fences with the BJP at the Centre, following deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s statement in the Lok Sabha last week that India could “never be declared a Hindu state”. Coupled with this are reports reaching Chennai that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whom the DMK has always found a moderate voice, is again in control of the party and government in Delhi.

Karunanidhi seized the initiative and, in some recent communiqués, thanked Vajpayee for the Centre’s help in shifting ailing Union minister Murasoli Maran to a hospital in the US by a special plane. He also issued a statement welcoming the Prime Minister’s instruction to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad to abide by the Election Commission’s directive not to take out a rath yatra in poll-bound Gujarat.

The DMK leader also sought to build a relationship with the number two in the NDA government, despite the general perception in political circles in Tamil Nadu that Jayalalithaa is strengthening her ties with Advani.

Karunanidhi’s write-up in his party organ Murasoli highlighted the significance of Advani’s speech in Parliament. This was reinforced with excerpts from an editorial in a national daily, which said the country ought to thank Advani for clarifying that India could never be declared a theocratic state.

Karunanidhi, who was fuming since the Gujarat riots eroded the DMK’s support base among minorities in Tamil Nadu, feels the deputy Prime Minister’s speech has raised hopes among ardent believers of secularism. The statement has also sent a firm signal that the Sangh parivar, which is striving to implement the Hindutva agenda in states like Gujarat, would be reined in.

Advani’s remarks — made in another context — that the word “Hinduism” does not refer to any religion, has also come in handy for Karunanidhi for dispelling impressions that the DMK leader was being anti-Hindu, after his controversial references at a rally of minorities.

At a press conference yesterday, Karunanidhi said any bid to politicise his remarks on the issue would not pass muster in the light of the deputy Prime Minister’s remarks and those of other Brahminical scholars such as the late Bashyam Iyengar. The DMK chief also warded off queries on why the party was not keeping up the momentum against the legislation on forcible religious conversions, along with the Congress and the Left parties.

Karunanidhi had last month shared a platform with these parties to speak up for the rights of minorities and Dalits and against the law on conversions. However, he appears to be going slow on that front now, even while opposing the new enactment.

“They have not invited us for the joint meetings,” he quipped, when asked about his silence in the last couple of weeks.

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