JAYA KICKS OFF, SEEKS DELHI FUNDS 

Read more below

By FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Chennai
  • Published 27.02.02
  •  
Chennai, Feb. 27 :    Chennai, Feb. 27:  Chief minister-designate Jayalalithaa today sought financial assistance, preferably grants, from the NDA government to help Tamil Nadu overcome a serious financial crisis while reiterating the ADMK's policy of "issue-based support" to the Centre. The ADMK leader, who paid a 20-minute courtesy visit to Governor P.S. Ramamohan Rao, said her party did not believe in a confrontationist stance against the Centre "just for the sake of opposing". "We have differences on certain issues, but I urge the Centre to extend a helping hand by way of some special fiscal accommodation," Jayalalithaa said a day before finance minister Yashwant Sinha presents the Union budget. Jayalalithaa had started speaking the language of moderation since last night. While responding to the railway budget, she did not slam the Centre despite her reservations against it. Instead, Jayalalithaa urged the railway minister to reduce the passenger fare hikes to a "moderate level in the interest of the common man". Jayalalithaa also called on Opposition parties in the state, including the DMK and the Left, to set aside political animosities and "cooperate with us in making our state the number one in the country". DMK chief M. Karunanidhi responded promptly, stating at a press conference that he had never adopted a "negativistic stance" against Jayalalithaa. "In fact, I was the first to congratulate her on her Andipatti electoral victory on her birthday," he said. Karunanidhi also toned down protest against electoral irregularities at the Andipatti byelection and said he was not averse to all MPs from Tamil Nadu meeting to discuss the state's fiscal crisis and collectively seeking Central assistance. Karunanidhi echoed Jayalalithaa's demand that the upward revision in rail passenger fares be reconsidered. Tamil Nadu's needs have not been met in the railway budget and the DMK MPs will take up the issue with the Centre, he said. But he ruled out chances of the BJP's debacle in Uttar Pradesh creating any "cracks" in the NDA. Answering a reporter's query, Jayalalithaa ruled out changing Speaker K. Kalimuthu. "There is no such plan," she shot back, when told there were reports Kalimuthu could be drafted into her new ministry. But the minister list is still in the making, she added, declining to go into details whether her new ministry would be a small one to signal fiscal austerity at the top. The chief minister-designate said that there were no legal hurdles as of now to her occupying the top post, but she had still not submitted the list of ministers to the Governor.