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Jaya terror jolt to Atal’s team

Chennai, Sept. 22: Jayalalithaa has again turned the terror-law tables on the BJP-led Centre, asking the Prime Minister to drop a Union minister for speaking in support of the banned Liberation Tamil Tigers Eeelam (LTTE).

She said the state government has decided to take action against M. Kannappan, minister of state for non-conventional energy sources and MDMK treasurer, under the anti- terrorism law — which was pushed through by the BJP in Parliament ignoring stiff opposition.

If the chief minister makes good her threat — as she did in the case of Kannappan’s leader Vaiko who is still languishing in jail — he will become the first central minister to be slapped with the dreaded law.

In a letter to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Jayalalithaa said she would invoke the law even if the Prime Minister chose not to take action due to political compulsions.

“No law prevents even a central minister from being arrested by the state government in public interest if he indulges in activities against the law of the land,” she wrote.

She said Kannappan had declared at a book release meeting on September 16 that his party’s support to the LTTE stood.

The minister also boasted that he had already spoken “25 times in support of the LTTE and that was the 26th time”. Kannappan had declared that he was not afraid of being arrested under the anti-terror law, and was “ready to give up his ministership anytime”, Jayalalithaa said in the letter.

She said Kannappan, by supporting a banned organisation, posed a threat to national security by being part of the central government.

Jayalalithaa said he got “emboldened” only because the Prime Minister did not take action against him earlier.

In August last year, she had made a similar request to the Prime Minister but nothing came of it. Jayalalithaa’s latest offensive came a day after the DMK, an NDA ally, announced an agitation against the Centre as well as the state government to force the withdrawal of the anti-terrorism law.

It also coincides with recurring speculation that the BJP is keen on a rapprochement with Jayalalithaa before next year’s general elections. Jayalalithaa’s new thrust is being seen as an attempt to force both the DMK and the MDMK out of the NDA.

However, BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu, who is in the state for a party meeting, said his party does not approve using the anti-terrorism law against political leaders.

Kannappan tonight described the state government’s decision as “politically motivated”. “I am prepared to face any action.”

He said the MDMK never supported the “violent activities” of the LTTE on Indian soil. “We are extending our moral support to the LTTE in its fight to safeguard Tamils in Sri Lanka,” he said.

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