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DMK talks to review alliance with BJP

Chennai, Nov. 30: Caught between its lingering loyalty to Atal Bihari Vajpayee and increasing alienation from the Tamil Nadu BJP, the DMK began talks among its own leaders on an alliance with the Prime Minister’s party before the Lok Sabha polls.

The beginning was a significant DMK move to come to terms with the contradictions in its ties with the BJP, a partner at the Centre but at loggerheads in the state where many of its leaders are rooting for an alliance with the Jayalalithaa-led ADMK.

“We have begun preliminary discussions on issues concerning the electoral alliance,” DMK president M. Karunanidhi said after a meeting of the DMK district secretaries, which the party MPs attended.

At the meeting in the DMK headquarters, where a wing has been named Murasoli Maran Valagam in memory of the former Union commerce and industries minister who died last Sunday, the parliamentary party elected environment minister T.R. Baalu as its new leader.

C. Kuppusamy will be the deputy leader of the DMK in the Lok Sabha and Viduthalai Virumbi its group leader in the Rajya Sabha. Maran was the DMK’s “national face” in recent years and a “bridge” between the party and the BJP-led coalition.

Karunanidhi declined to elaborate on the talks today but the 79-year-old DMK patriarch did not hide his displeasure with the state BJP’s latest stance — “equidistance” from the DMK and the ADMK in Tamil Nadu.

All that he would say was that the decision of the BJP’s state unit came in for some sharp criticism. “We have not yet taken any decision on the alliance as the time for it has not yet come,” said Karunanidhi.

Some of his party’s district secretaries felt that the BJP’s stand lacked credibility. They pointed out that it was the only party not to demand chief minister Jayalalithaa’s resignation on “moral grounds” after the Supreme Court’s “severe stricture” while acquitting her in the Tansi land cases.

Karunanidhi did not show his keenness in seeking a replacement for Maran in the Union cabinet. “There is hardly a year to go (for the present Lok Sabha) and we did not even think about it,” he said. The BJP has not sent feelers, “nor have we sent any to them” on this issue, he added.

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