Playing down differences with BSP leader Mayawati, the AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa came fiercely to the defence of the Third Front, even while keeping all options open, including staking her claim for the PM’s post after polls.
Quickly dispelling impressions of a fresh estrangement with the pan-Indian Dalit leader,Mayawati, the former Tamil Nadu chief minister dismissed the AIADMK’s absence at the dinner hosted by the BSP leader in Delhi on Sunday night as “not a big issue.”
“There was a communication gap, that’s all,” declared Jayalalithaa, speaking to reporters at her Poes Garden residence in Chennai after she handed over demand drafts worth over Rs 2.11 crore contributed by her partymen including her personal contribution of Rs 5 lakh towards providing relief to the Sri Lankan Tamils, to Francois Stamm, Head of the Regional Delegation, International Red Cross, New Delhi.
In fact, when ‘Amma’ profoundly thanked Stamm, who was accompanied by Surendra Oberio, IRC’s Coordinator in Delhi for personally coming over to Chennai to collect this amount for the suffering Tamils in Sri Lanka’s Northern war zone, she was also sending another last message to the PMK led by S Ramadoss, who has been a key leader in the Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement in Chennai, to drive home that she was second to none in Tamil Nadu to express solidarity with the Sri Lankan Tamils.
As Ramadoss continues to dilly-dally on whether PMK should be part of the DMK-Congress Front for the coming Lok Sabha polls, or respond more pro-actively by switching over to the AIADMK-led Front making common cause on a host of issues including the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, senior Congress leader, Gulam Nabi Azad asking the PMK leadership to resume talks with the DMK has put off ‘Amma’.
“You should ask them (PMK leaders),” Jayalalithaa retorted to queries on whether the PMK was in touch with her party to establish an electoral understanding. However, more indications that the OBC Vanniyars-based party is likely to humbly settle for the six seats offered to it by the DMK came on Monday, strangely through another Dalit outfit, ‘Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) led by Thol Thirumavalavan.
Barely two kms away from Poes Garden, Thirumavalavan was closeted with the DMK president, M Karunanidhi, at the latter’s residence, thanking him for emphasizing the “ideological bonding” between the two. On coming out after their meeting, the VCK leader said, “The PMK will remain with us”. That spoke volumes on top of Azad working his charm with the PMK to stick to the DMK-Congress front.
Yet, all eyes were on Jayalalithaa’s next move on Monday, fearing that she might jettison the ‘Third Front’ concept. On the contrary, ‘Amma’ hit out at Karunanidhi describing the ‘Third Front’ or the ‘Alternative Front’- as parties in it wish to call it as the ‘Third Eye’.
Jayalalithaa cautioned the DMK chief against such a description. It refers to the "Third eye on the forehead of Lord Shiva,” she pointed out. As long as that ‘Third Eye’ remains closed, “sinners and wrong-doers are safe, but once it is open, they are reduced to ashes,” the AIADMK leader reminded, and hoped that Karunanidhi would be wise enough not to use such expressions in future against the ‘Third Front’.
Though the AIADMK “has not expressed any aspirations as such” on the Prime Ministerial candidate being from her party, Jayalalithaa to a related query said there was nothing wrong if leaders of other parties (like BSP’s Mayawati and NCP’s Sharad Pawar), expressed such aspirations. “After all, someone has to aspire (to become PM),” she quipped.
In the same breath, Jayalalithaa did not foreclose her options on this issue. “No comments,” was her smiling, diplomatic reply when a reporter asked whether she was in the race for the PM’s post given her “caliber and experience”. However, issues like who and how the new Prime Minister would be chosen will have to await the results of the Lok Sabha elections, she categorically added.
“My entire concentration now is to win the maximum number of seats, of the total of 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry,” Jayalalithaa said and pointed out that even during the 2004 Lok Sabha poll campaign, nobody had “even mentioned” Manmohan Singh’s name as the Prime Ministerial candidate.