Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday secured a tacit understanding with Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, whose party AIADMK has 37 Lok Sabha and 10 Rajya Sabha MPs.
“We will see when the situation arises,” Jayalalithaa said, when asked if she would support the NDA from outside, particularly in the Rajya Sabha. Her statement, seen by many as a move towards providing issue-based support to the centre, comes in the backdrop of the BJP deliberating on giving the post of Deputy Speaker in the Lok Sabha to the AIADMK.
She, however, added, “NDA has got an independent majority (in Lok Sabha)…for that matter the BJP itself has got an independent majority. They do not need support from outside.”
When asked if she would actually join the NDA, the Tamil Nadu CM said, “There was no such talk and no such proposal.”
In her first meeting with PM Modi that lasted almost 50 minutes, the Tamil Nadu CM submitted a 64-page memorandum of several demands, ranging from raising the water level of the Mullaperiyar Dam to additional power supply.
Jayalalithaa also demanded settlement of financial arrears to the state running into thousands of crores of rupees. Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and several other central schemes, more than Rs. 4,000 crore is outstanding to Tamil Nadu, which has spent funds in anticipation of allocation from the centre. “We have not been reimbursed by the centre. That puts us in a very difficult fiscal position in the state,” Jayalalithaa said.
“It (the meeting) was very useful and I hope it will prove to be rewarding,” the chief minister said after the talks. Later, she also met finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley, telecom and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and industry and commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The meeting with Jayalalithaa came a day after Prime Minister Modi held talks with another key regional leader, Odisha chief minister and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik.
BJD too, indicated it may provide issue-based support to the central government. Although the BJP enjoys sweeping majority in Lok Sabha, the ruling NDA alliance is in minority in Rajya Sabha and needs outside support to pass bills. While Patnaik asked for a special category status, which allows states to share lesser funds in central schemes, Jayalalithaa made no such demand. “The Prime Minister was very receptive, gave me a patient hearing and promised to do the needful, and said having been a CM himself for 13 years, he knew the difficulties faced by chief ministers of states, and he will do everything in his power to see that the needs of Tamil Nadu are met,” Jayalalithaa said.