The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Southern ally chafes at Advani

New Delhi, Sept. 24: The MDMK is annoyed at L.K. Advani’s reaction to Jayalalithaa’s threat to arrest Union minister M. Kannappan under the anti-terror law and suspects a BJP gameplan to weaken it before the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

Kannappan had recently criticised the deputy Prime Minister at a public meeting in Chennai for not speaking against the Tamil Nadu chief minister who got his party chief Vaiko — languishing in Vellore jail for 14 months — arrested under the anti-terror legislation. He had pointed out that Advani had criticised Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh for ordering raids on Akali leader Parkash Singh Badal’s residence.

While Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had assured Parliament that the Centre would review the anti-terror legislation if its misuse was proved, Advani had on Tuesday washed his hands off, saying the act was enacted by the Centre but its implementation is vested with state governments.

Advani downplayed allegations about misuse of the anti-terror law. “We cannot level allegations against any particular state government” of misusing the anti-terror legislation. “Cases are before the court and let the court decide,” he said.

MDMK sources refused to go on record against Advani. However, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi reacted sharply. “I only pity him. Circumstances have made him speak like that,” he said in Chennai.

“Vaiko is languishing in Vellore jail for 14 months for declaring verbal support to the outlawed LTTE, one crore people in Tamil Nadu signed a petition for his release and last month 301 MPs from all parties, barring ADMK, signed a memo addressed to the anti-terror law review committee to highlight the gross misuse of the act. What more proof do you want of Jayalalithaa’s political vendetta'” asked an MDMK source.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia had distributed tridents in Tiruchi and had incited “violence” against certain religious groups but no action was taken against him, alleged MDMK sources.

However, Vaiko was thrown in jail and now “they are” targeting Kannappan, pointed out the sources.

Advani’s lukewarm reaction to Jayalalithaa’s threat against Kannappan and the BJP’s bid to lure MDMK member Gingee Ramachandran to expand its base among the Vanniyar community in northern Tamil Nadu have not gone down well with the MDMK, sources said.

Ramachandran, who was forced to quit the Vajpayee ministry in May after his secretary was caught taking bribe, was reinducted early this month though the CBI is still quizzing him.

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