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Since 1st March, 1999
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DMK keeps trust, Jaya mum

Chennai, Aug. 17: The DMK today scotched rumours of differences with the NDA by saying it would support the Centre against the Opposition’s no-trust motion to be moved in the Lok Sabha tomorrow.

“We are still in the NDA,” DMK chief M. Karunanidhi said in Tiruchirapalli, citing the reason for the party’s decision.

Speculation over the DMK quitting the national coalition had gained ground after alliance convener George Fernandes yesterday hinted at seeking the ADMK’s support to defeat the Congress-sponsored no-confidence motion. The defence minister had said there was “no conflict of interest” in seeking Jayalalithaa’s support.

Karunanidhi’s arch rival, however, maintained a studied silence on the no-trust motion though she has called a meeting of the ADMK’s executive here tomorrow. When asked if any top BJP leader had spoken to her since last evening, a senior party functionary said: “Only Amma can say.”

But the chief minister kept communication with the PMO open as her office today released to the press her letter to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, urging the Prime Minister’s intervention to release an ex gratia to nearly 4,000 workers of the closed Bharat Gold Mines in Kolar. A large number of Tamils were employed in the mine in Karnataka.

Karunanidhi’s move was announced at a news conference at the Tiruchi Sangam Hotel in the middle of a fund-raising tour. Earlier, he consulted senior party leaders, including Union environment minister T.R. Baalu, who has been officiating as DMK parliamentary party chief in the absence of ailing Murasoli Maran.

Karunanidhi refused to comment on media reports of Baalu’s outburst at yesterday’s NDA meeting in Delhi when some leaders tried to seek Jayalalithaa’s support.

Instead, he hinted the DMK would stick with the Vajpayee regime even if NDA floor managers approached the ADMK at the eleventh hour. “When we are still part of the NDA, how can we support the motion'” Karunanidhi asked.

Asked if it was “fair” of the NDA to try to seek the DMK rival’s support, he said: “We (the DMK) are not in politics to play childish games, to say that I will not play if someone joins up with someone else. But if on any specific issue there was any serious ideological or policy differences involved, the DMK will certainly speak out.”

The no-trust motion, the DMK chief pointed out, did not involve any contentious issue such as the Ram temple in Ayodhya or the cow-slaughter ban bill. “Any legislation to facilitate the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya or to ban cow slaughter, we will certainly oppose in Parliament,” he said.

Karunanidhi iterated that only the DMK’s executive committee and general council could decide on the party’s continuance in the national alliance in the wake of “intensifying contradictions” — on which the ADMK often saw eye-to-eye with the BJP.

Karunanidhi did not let go of the opportunity to take a dig at the ADMK for being more keen on “rushing to help the BJP” than the saffron party was for Jayalalithaa’s support. “I do not think the BJP is facing such a crisis at the Centre now,” he said.

While the DMK’s decision was being made, party general secretary K. Anbazhagan was closeted with leaders of major Opposition parties such as the Congress and the CPI at a CPM-convened meeting here.

Anbazhagan was quick to emphasise that “this (meeting) has nothing to do with that (no-trust move)”.

The Chennai meeting ended with the announcement of a statewide protest on August 22 to condemn the ADMK government’s cases — under the state Essential Services Maintenance Act — against Karunanidhi, state Congress chief E.V.K.S. Elangovan and CPI and CPM state secretaries R. Nallakannu and . Varadarajan, respectively.

A senior DMK functionary said his party shared a platform with the Congress and the Left only on state issues; the Chennai meeting was one such as it sought the revocation of Esma.

The Vaiko-led MDMK is also expected to vote against the no-trust motion as the party has agreed to work in “close coordination” with the DMK to safeguard the basic principles of the “Dravidian movement”.

Another NDA partner, S. Ramadoss’s PMK, announced today its support for the Centre against the motion.

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