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Amma?s men chaperone BJP flock

THE RULING AIADMK in Tamil Nadu has no political pact with the BJP. But that hasn?t prevented it from pulling out all stops to provide security and hospitality to the 70 Karnataka BJP MLAs. To pre-empt any poaching overtures, the party has sent the MLAs to Chennai, the capital of the only non-Congress-ruled state in south India.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 23:30 IST

THE RULING AIADMK in Tamil Nadu has no political pact with the BJP. But that hasn’t prevented it from pulling out all stops to provide security and hospitality to the 70 Karnataka BJP MLAs. To pre-empt any poaching overtures, the party has sent the MLAs to Chennai, the capital of the only non-Congress-ruled state in south India.

At the new Accord Metropolitan Hotel of a former AIADMK MP-turned-educationist, visitors are questioned by state security staff before being let into the lobby. Media persons, obviously, are a strict “no”. But one could possibly sneak in, minus the trappings of a journalist — the notepads, sling bags and news-hungry look.

A couple of BJP MLAs come down from the second floor, plonk themselves on a sofa and start reading newspapers. “We should be raising questions in the assembly but here, we are spending an unplanned holiday away from our families,” rues former PWD minister P. M. Udeshi.

And since the hotel is in T. Nagar — the heart of the city’s commercial hub — local BJP functionaries are supervising their shopping and eating out. The MLAs bussed it to a nearby idli stall for breakfast on Saturday. And they have been a given a list of eateries they can visit, since state BJP treasurer Chakravarthy and his family own at least a dozen restaurants.

Local pointsperson and state BJP general secretary G. Kumaravelu has asked them to put shopping for silks and textiles on hold till the last two days. However, a sightseeing trip to Mahabalipuram is lined up for Sunday. Some MLAs even want to visit Kancheepuram and have a possible darshan of the Sankaracharyas at nearby Kalavai.Kumaravelu understands that the MLAs can’t be “cooped up in their hotel rooms for a week.

So we’ve to plan programmes for them. But they’ve been told that their movements will be watched by our people and the state police, to whom we have made a special request”.

And who foots the bill for the hospitality? “The high-command has asked us not to worry about expenses. Our MLAs’ safety is paramount,” replies Kumaravelu. And keeping them in good humour too, Kumaravelu might have added.

First Published: Jan 22, 2006 23:30 IST