The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Comedy of comedies, taunts Jaya

Chennai, May 16: Boosted by a Dalit party’s contention that the DMK-led alliance’s sweep in the state was not the result of a wave in its favour, Jayalalithaa today ridiculed the Opposition’s demand for her resignation over largescale omission of names from the electoral rolls.

“It is true that the names of lakhs of voters had been deleted, but it was the ADMK which was the biggest loser in this game as most of them are our party supporters,” the chief minister said in a five-page statement.

Charging that the DMK had included “lakhs of bogus voters” in the rolls, Jayalalithaa said: “When these are the facts, it is a comedy of comedies that the DMK and its allies should demand that the ADMK government resign on this issue.”

At best, only three or four for every 1,000 affected voters would be from the DMK while those “really affected (read the ADMK)” were not making a hue and cry, she said.

Jayalalithaa stated that preparation and revision of the electoral rolls were the responsibility of the Election Commission, an autonomous body, with which her party took up the issue on polling day itself. “Does not a veteran politician like (DMK chief M.) Karunanidhi know this' Who is he trying to fool with such a resolution (calling for her resignation)'” she asked.

Dalit Panthers of India chief Thol Thirumavalavan, who contested from Chidambaram on the Janata Dal (United)’s symbol, said his fortune was largely affected as the names of 60,000 to 70,000 Dalit voters had been struck off the rolls there.

He dismissed the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance’s demand for Jayalalithaa’s resignation, saying: “This demand has a meaning only if those deprived of voting in the Lok Sabha polls can get an opportunity to vote.”

Playing down the DMK alliance’s sweep, he said most parties aligned with the BJP lost across the country because of an “anti-BJP wave” against its Hindutva policies.

In Tamil Nadu, the ADMK bore the brunt of this defeat, but Amma’s vote bank has remained intact, he contended. He attributed part of the ADMK wipeout to Jayalalithaa’s “strategic blunder” of harping on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin.

The DMK and its seven allies won the election “mostly on the strength of their alliance”, a factor which helped Jayalalithaa snatch power in the 2001 Assembly polls as most of the DMK’s allies were then with her, Thirumavalavan argued.

Jayalalithaa claimed there was nothing “historic” about the DMK’s win in all 40 seats, including Pondicherry, as her alliance had done so in the 1991 Lok Sabha polls.

Crunching numbers, she said the ADMK-BJP alliance got one crore of the total of 2.86 crore votes polled, while the rival seven-party alliance received 1.64 crore votes, a difference of only 64 lakh.

The ADMK “would have won hands down if the largescale deletion of voters and the enrolment of lakhs of bogus voters by DMK in the electoral rolls had not taken place”, Jayalalithaa contended, refuting the impression that the people had rejected her party.

She also dismissed Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy’s demand for dismissal of her government by the Centre on the basis of a 1977 Supreme Court verdict that a state government could be toppled by invoking Article 356 if it lost the people’s mandate in an intervening Lok Sabha election.

Jayalalithaa pointed out that a nine-member bench of the apex court had held in 1994 that invocation of Article 356 under such circumstances was improper and invalid. “Does not a scholar like Subramanian Swamy know this'” the ADMK general secretary asked.

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