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Jaya signals pact with Naidu

Chennai, Jan. 28: ADMK chief Jayalalithaa today hinted at a pact with Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, in the backdrop of the Congress’ subtle overtures to the DMK, particularly in the Sathankulam Assembly bypoll, and the state BJP’s fence-sitting.

Jayalalithaa said she had met the Andhra Pradesh chief minister earlier this month to plead for the supply of Krishna waters to Chennai under the Telugu-Ganga project in view of the monsoon failure.

Jayalalithaa extending an olive branch to the Desam chief is all set to churn the bonding between two key southern NDA allies — the DMK and the Desam.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister told DMK member Ponmudi that it was not always necessary for officials to be present at such meetings.

What quickly flowed from their talks, she added, was the constitution of a “liaison committee” with top officials from both the states to interact on a regular basis to sort out the issues involved in stepping up the Krishna water supply to Chennai.

“Now we have an amicable relationship with the Andhra Pradesh chief minister and we have decided to cooperate on issues of mutual concern,” Jayalalithaa said. This might have unnerved DMK chief M. Karunanidhi and his party members, “but nothing can now unsettle the cordial relationship between me and the Andhra Pradesh chief minister”, the ADMK chief said.

DMK deputy leader Durai Murugan said the same display of cordiality with her Karnataka counterpart, S.M. Krishna, over the Cauvery water issue would have averted “Thanjavur delta turning into a Sahara desert”.

Jayalalithaa retorted that the very structure of the Cauvery River Authority, which was agreed to in the past by none other than Karunanidhi himself, required that issues related to the tribunal award should be discussed only at the river authority meetings.

Denying the Opposition charge that “13 hunger deaths had taken place” in the Cauvery delta areas this year, Jayalalithaa quoted reports from the district collectors of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam, saying that not a single death recorded was due to starvation.

CPI floor leader G. Palanichamy said that apart from the first death of a boy, Prakash, in Tiruvarur district, who alone had died due to starvation some months ago, 12 deaths in farmers’ families had occurred in recent weeks in the delta districts on account of the crop failure and the attendant debt-related stress problems.

Later, DMK and ADMK members stalled the House for almost 10 minutes over which party — the DMK or the ADMK — had “betrayed Tamil Nadu’s interests” in the long history of the Cauvery waters dispute.

Speaker K. Kalimuthu urged the DMK members, demanding withdrawal of finance minister C. Ponnaiyan’s remarks against Karunanidhi, to resume their seats. But with the MLAs unyielding in their protest, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day.

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