The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jaya goes soft on Cong chief
- Nothing personal in poll punch

New Delhi, Sept. 16: Jayalalithaa, who had run a bitter campaign against Sonia Gandhi in the elections, today declared she had nothing 'personal' against the Congress chief.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister also praised her decision to decline the Prime Minister's post and insisted Manmohan Singh was not a 'puppet', as the BJP has claimed.

'I paid my compliments to the Prime Minister,' she said after a 35-minute meeting with him.

Jayalalithaa made it clear she did not share the BJP-Sangh parivar view that Sonia is the super Prime Minister. Asked for her comments, the ADMK chief said: 'Prime Minister himself met mediapersons. I don't wish to make comment on that. I feel Dr Manmohan Singh is an independent person. He found Tamil Nadu is the best-administered state in the country.'

Amid speculation that she was trying to get an appointment with Sonia before going back on Saturday, Jayalalithaa asked: 'Why should I attack her on personal grounds' She insisted that the campaign against Sonia's foreign origin could not be labelled 'personal'. 'In the heat of the election, some issues come up. It is natural that parties raise these issues.'

Jayalalithaa, however, denied that she wanted an appointment with Sonia or that she was trying to patch up with her. The Congress also denied talk of a possible meeting.

Maintaining that she has no alliance with the BJP now, the chief minister said: 'I am a multi-faceted person. You are seeing a different person today and you will see a different person in future.' Asked to explain, the ADMK chief said: 'I am not hinting at anything. Nothing is static in this world. We are growing and evolving.'

The chief minister submitted a memorandum to Singh seeking central intervention on issues ranging from Cauvery water-sharing to the anti-terror law. Opposing the move to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Activities Act, she did not say if Tamil Nadu would enact a law in its place on the lines suggested by the BJP-ruled states.

'I had occasion to interact with Manmohan Singh when he was finance minister and I was chief minister for the first time. Both of us have pleasant memories of those days,' she said, adding: 'I met him for the first time (since he became PM).' But she would not hazard a guess on how long his government would last' 'I can't say,' she said, when asked.

On whether she would meet .K. Advani during her stay here, the ADMK leader said: 'My official engagements are made known to the media. You'll certainly come to know of it.'

Jayalalithaa arrived here last night to inaugurate the new Tamil Nadu Bhavan. On Saturday she is to scheduled to attend a conference of chief ministers and chief justices. But there is no word on what she is planning to do on Friday.

Whether Jayalalithaa calls on Sonia or not, the signals that she is trying to mend fences with her and the Prime Minister will give sleepless nights to arch-rival Karunanidhi, a partner in the ruling alliance.

Sources said she needs the Centre's help to sort out some corruption cases. Another view is that Jayalalithaa has softened her stand on Sonia to drive a wedge between her and Karunanidhi.

Asked if her party would align with the Congress in the March 2006 Assembly elections, Jayalalithaa only said: 'No comments.'

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