| Bhupendra, the owner of a detective agency arrested in connection with the alleged tapping of Amar Singh’s phone, in New Delhi on Thursday. After five days of police interrogation, he has been sent to judicial custody till Saturday. (PTI)
Chennai, Jan. 5: Amar Singh came, heard what he wanted to hear but could not entirely conquer Jayalalithaa.
Taking the tapping case to one of the three chief ministers he trusts, the Samajwadi Party leader found sympathy from Jayalalithaa but a political indiscretion here and there seems to have prevented her from going all out in support of the visitor.
At the end of the day, Jayalalithaa projected herself as a more long-suffering victim of phone-tapping at the hands of successive governments in Delhi.
“While this specific instance of tapping of telephones of political leaders has now come out into the open, I have all along felt that my telephones are being tapped by the Centre,” she said after a 30-minute meeting with Amar Singh at the secretariat here this afternoon.
“So far, I have refrained from making this public, because I know there would be a flat denial by the Centre. Now Shri Amar Singh has furnished solid proof that the Centre has organised the tapping of the telephone of an Opposition political leader,” Jayalalithaa said in a statement, terming the alleged tapping “most disgraceful”.
But Jayalalithaa stopped short of seeking the resignation of the Union government, probably because of the statements Amar Singh made later at an impromptu media conference about her rival, the DMK, and a suggestion that the Centre may not have “trust” in her.
Amar Singh did commit another “indiscretion” ' he forgot to include the addi- tional ‘a’ in Jayalalithaa’s name when he issued a statement ' but it is not known whether that made any impact on his host.
Amar Singh was in Chennai as part of his efforts to get the support of three non-Congress chief ministers ' Jayalalithaa, Bengal’s Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Bihar’s Nitish Kumar ' to “curb the growing menace” of phone tapping.
Amar Singh’s leader and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had last week alleged that the Centre was out to “frame” them on the order of “10 Janpath”, producing “incriminating” evidence by tapping their phones.
But the Samajwadi Party was somewhat pushed to the backfoot after a man associated with Reliance Infocomm, a company owned by party-supported MP Anil Ambani, was arrested in connection with the tapping.
Emerging from Jayalalithaa’s office, Amar Singh, one of the familiar sound bite specialists on television channels, spent around 40 minutes amid cameras and microphones, holding forth on the tapping controversy.
During the discourse, the heartland politician, perhaps unaware of the sensitive political culture of Tamil Nadu, said he would have sought the DMK’s support.
But he was constrained by the fact that when he moved the Supreme Court, the communications ministry, headed by the DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran, could also become a party to the case.
If this was not sufficient to turn Jayalalithaa wary, Amar Singh went another step ahead.
To a question, he said if the Centre did not have “trust” in either Jayalalithaa or Nitish Kumar, it can let Bhattacharjee conduct a probe.
Under normal circumstances, this would have been perceived as a statement that reflected the political reality. But Jayalalithaa, extremely sensitive to statements that cast doubts on her stature, especially in Centre-state relations, is not known to let such comments pass.
In her statement, Jayalalithaa did say that the “web of insidious surveillance and that too through private telecom companies, can well be extended to scientists, sensitive installations like atomic energy plants, the Indian Space Research Organisation and defence-related organisations”.
But she did not ask for the central government’s resignation ' a demand that usually follows such grave charges.