The Congress and the AIADMK may not be on the best of terms but Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has left Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa smiling.
In a major policy change, the PM has agreed to her proposal wherein her state PSUs will acquire 3.56% of the central government's stake in Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd (NLC), the first time any state government will be doing so. This may pave the way for other states to buy stakes in central PSUs when they need funds.
The move is politically significant for her too, ahead of the 2014 polls. All major political parties in Tamil Nadu had opposed New Delhi's initial move to disinvest NLC. They feared the loss of jobs of 27,000 workers who were on strike since July 3.
A happy Jayalalithaa called up the PM to thank him. On his part, Dr Singh "appreciated" Jayalalithaa for her action to bring to an end the row over the sale of stakes. Earlier, both sides had exchanged letters on the issue.
As a result, the empowered group under finance minister P Chidambaram will meet on Wednesday to okay the change.
Founded in 1956, NLC operates the largest open-pit lignite mines in India, presently mining 24MT of lignite. It has an installed capacity to generate 2,740MW of electricity.
Jayalalithaa is happy that the market regulator, SEBI, agreed to her proposal. She said, "The victory is due to my government's continued action, my own independent steps, workers struggle and due to the united voice of the people of the state." The big question is whether the move will bring her closer to the Congress. So far, she has ruled out any pre-poll alliance with any national party. Tamil Nadu has 39 Lok Sabha seats.
With additional inputs by Saubhadra Chatterjee