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Southern race for crores to precede poll battle

Chennai, June 8: The DMK apparently expects an early general election as party chief M. Karunanidhi has asked workers to launch a fund-raising drive.

After an hour-long meeting today with newly-elected district secretaries at the DMK headquarters here, he asked the party to set a target of Rs 25 crore.

With the district-wise targets fixed, the secretaries were directed to hasten fund collection in consultation with lower-level functionaries, the DMK chief said.

Karunanidhi had last week told his party’s general council meeting that a concerted effort would be necessary to gather a decent DMK “poll kitty” as it could not match the financial muscle of the ADMK.

The ruling party, he said, was busy trying to collect Rs 200 crore to Rs 300 crore before the general election.

Asked if he anticipated early polls, Karunanidhi said: “We will be ready to face any election.” He went on to hint that an early election would depend on the outcome of the Assembly polls in the four northern states later this year.

Karunanidhi, however, was evasive about the likelihood of a mid-term poll in Tamil Nadu.

He took the opportunity to rule out any change in the DMK’s stand on the Babri Masjid demolition, which the party had condemned as a heinous crime. The remark followed the charge of “instigation” against deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani by five of the demolition-case accused in Lucknow yesterday.

“Should the issue (demolition case) again come to the fore in a big way, whatever stand we took in December 1992, soon after the Babri Masjid demolition, the DMK will continue to adhere to it,” Karunanidhi said.

He ruled out any change in “our basic position” on the issue.

The DMK chief refused to comment on the “basis of newspaper reports” about his BJP counterpart M. Venkaiah Naidu’s controversial description of Atal Bihari Vajpayee as vikas purush and Advani as lauh purush. Naidu’s remarks had hinted at a personality tussle within the BJP, a DMK ally in the National Democratic Alliance. Karunanidhi was also silent on his party’s likely position if Advani were to be “really projected” as the BJP’s supreme leader for the election.

Amid rumours of a realignment of political forces, the DMK chief kept his distance from the Congress when asked about its demand for the resignation of Advani and other Union ministers concerned after yesterday’s twist in the demolition case. “It is an issue between the Congress and the BJP,” Karunanidhi said.

On Anna University’s plan to confer honorary doctorate degrees on Advani and chief minister Jayalalithaa, the DMK chief said: “Let them confer the degrees; there is nothing wrong in it.”

Though he was critical about police — who were too keen to “please their political masters” — Karunanidhi evaded a direct reply when asked if he would meet his elder son M.K. Azhagiri in Tiruchi central prison. Azhagiri has been in jail after his arrest over the death of veteran DMK leader Pasumponn T. Kiruttinan.

M.K. Stalin, Karunanidhi’s other son, had met his brother in jail on Friday.

According to Karunanidhi, the police’s attitude under the ADMK regime was a “black spot” in the annals of the state police.

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