| Jayalalithaa: Confused'
New Delhi, Oct. 8: If the BJP’s ardour fails to finally melt Jayalalithaa, blame the Congress.
Sources said deft moves by Sonia Gandhi’s party to explore new alignments in the south in the wake of the Ram setu controversy have spoiled the BJP’s courtship of the ADMK.
The initial enthusiasm among BJP leaders about a possible tie-up also appears to have waned. Party sources conceded there has been nothing so far to indicate that the ADMK was making up its mind to join the National Democratic Alliance.
Rather, they suspect the Congress has intervened to confuse Jayalalithaa about her choices.
A section in the Congress believes the DMK has become a liability after M. Karunanidhi’s comments about Ram’s drinking habits, and sources confirmed that Jayalalithaa had been contacted and asked not to decide her future political moves in haste.
There are reports that Pranab Mukherjee spoke to her twice in recent weeks and showed interest in further negotiations. The Congress is also in a position to bring down the DMK government in Tamil Nadu, a political leverage it can use to great effect.
Although the consultations are at a nascent stage and Jayalalithaa is a tough nut to crack, the Congress, observers said, has certainly managed to stop the BJP in its tracks.
Earlier, BJP leaders had been buoyant after Jayalalithaa’s strident stand on the ship channel controversy. She not only confronted the DMK, but also created with her Ram rhetoric the impression that she was moving away from the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA).
BJP leaders lost no time in pointing out that her views on several other issues, too, were similar to that of the Sangh parivar’s.
The party’s new man in charge of Tamil Nadu, Ravi Shankar Prasad, even had some encouraging interactions with Jayalalithaa and her comments against some UNPA leaders further strengthened the impression that the third front arrangement was not final.
A meeting between L.K. Advani and Jayalalithaa was fixed for September 20. But the former Tamil Nadu chief minister put off the meeting at the last minute.
The sources said the Congress played spoilsport, thinking that the “confrontationist” attitude of the DMK on the Ram setu issue might compel it to explore other options in the state.
The DMK has been campaigning for the ship channel project, which, once complete, would reduce sailing time for ships but involves dredging a chain of islets the Sangh parivar says is a bridge built by Ram.
It was also taken into account that people’s verdict swings like a pendulum and the ADMK might well be the winning party next time. The electoral arithmetic in the state, the sources said, is such that the alliance, which has the Congress, gets an automatic edge.
While the Congress has cleverly kept its options open, the BJP has antagonised the DMK by its combative stance. Party central leaders not only demanded punitive action against Karunanidhi, it also petitioned the President for the dismissal of his government.
BJP and DMK workers also clashed with each other on the streets for the first time.
Although time heals these wounds much faster in politics, it will be difficult for the BJP to align with the DMK in the near future, at least in the next elections.
The Congress, on the other hand, appears set to gain in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere by changing sides as it won’t have to bear the cross for the DMK chief’s comments about Ram.