The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani and Jaya digest deal over dinner

Chennai, Feb. 1: L .K. Advani today sealed his party’s poll alliance with the ADMK when, after dinner with Jayalalithaa, he said there was “no problem” in seat-sharing between the two parties.

The remark came after a 90-minute dinner meeting with the chief minister at her Poes Garden home, which the deputy Prime Minister emphasised he was visiting “after many years”.

Though Advani put no number on his party’s expectations, political circles claimed the BJP was pitching for 10 of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats, including Pondicherry, but would be happy even with eight. The BJP’s state unit, Advani said, was discussing the “matter (seat sharing)” with the ADMK.

More important, Advani sought to convey the message of the seal of authority he had put on the understanding reached a few days ago when BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu met his ADMK counterpart.

This was evident when he said: “We reaffirmed that the government should receive a renewed mandate in Delhi. We are confident that this is going to happen.” This, for all practical purposes, laid the framework for renewed BJP-ADMK poll ties.

Adding a personal touch to the proceedings, Advani — who was here to launch the “campus community radio” at Anna University — thanked the chief minister’s “very warm and generous hospitality”.

Information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad — who was present at the dinner — has “given me an opportunity to come to Chennai” to inaugurate the community radio, Advani said, thus giving him the chance to “come to Poes Garden after many years”.

At the university, Advani, while underscoring the Centre’s “feel-good” performance, reserved praise for Jayalalithaa by describing her as a true follower of Annadurai’s tradition and a charismatic leader determined to take Tamil Nadu to greater heights.

The deputy Prime Minister also drove home the point that the return of Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister was crucial for the stability of India’s polity. “The country had seen seven Prime Ministers from 1988 to 1998 and Vajpayee is the only one to occupy the post for over five years from 1998.”

“God willing, he will continue to be the Prime Minister for the next five years,” said Advani as Jayalalithaa stood by his side waiting to see him off.

The deputy Prime Minister made the remarks to some camera crew who were allowed inside Poes Garden. He skipped the reporters waiting outside and drove straight to the airport.

DMK, Cong meet

The meeting scheduled in Chennai between M. Karunanidhi and Sonia Gandhi to release their parties’ constituency lists has been put off because of her inability to come owing to the ongoing Parliament session.

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