New Delhi: Indicating she was in no hurry to embrace the Congress, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa sprang a surprise in the capital Tuesday by demanding Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s resignation for fraudulently getting elected to the Lok Sabha two years ago.
A poised AIADMK chief, who led her party to a thumping electoral win only a month ago, also asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sack Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran on corruption charges.
Addressing the media after calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jayalalithaa turned her guns on Chidambaram, saying sternly: “He has played a fraud on the nation.”
“He has not won the election. In fact he lost the election,” she said. Chidambaram had narrowly defeated the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga constituency in 2009. She said the data entry operator in the Sivaganga constituency transferred votes secured by AIADMK’s Raja Kannappan to Chidambaram’s credit. Insisting his position in the cabinet was “untenable”, she added: “He should resign.”
According to official data, Chidambaram won by a narrow margin of 3,354 votes. The result was declared after a lot of confusion and protests. A peeved Chidambaram hit back Tuesday, saying Jayalalithaa had shown contempt of court.
But Jayalalithaa appeared supremely confident. Clad in a magenta sari, diamond earrings in place, she was addressing her first press conference here in years. Her blazing two-day trip to Delhi was watched keenly to see if the politician, strengthened by her landslide victory in Tamil Nadu last month, would show any preference for the Congress in the coalition era.
She did not. Instead, she made it clear that since the Congress and DMK were allies in the central government, “it would not be appropriate to meet (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi”.
Jayalalithaa said any question of the support she had offered to the Congress before the Tamil Nadu election “simply does not arise” today. In comments that will not please the Congress, which has taken an increasingly belligerent stand vis-a-vis civil society activists Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev, she said “any Indian citizen has the democratic right to protest against corruption”.
Speaking about her defeated archrival DMK with contempt, she said many more from the party were destined to go to jail for corruption. “The DMK is facing the heat today, the DMK supremo’s family is facing the heat today. Many of the DMK leaders and leading lights of the party are facing a slew of corruption cases. Some are in jail, many more are likely to go to jail.”
Jayalalithaa was equally harsh on Maran, who has been accused in connection with the allocation of second generation spectrum when he was the telecommunication minister in 2004-07. His successor, A. Raja, is in prison, also over corruption charges.
“Maran should step down from his post. If he fails to do so, the PM should drop him.”
In her meeting with the prime minister, in which National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon was also present, she discussed in detail the situation in Sri Lanka.
She said Sri Lankan Tamils needed to “lead a life of dignity”, enjoying the same rights as the Sinhalese majority. She reiterated her objection to India’s 1974 decision to cede to Sri Lanka the Katchatheevu island, located in the sea dividing the two countries. She accused the Sri Lankan forces of harassing Tamil Nadu fishermen in the narrow sea dividing the two countries.
On June 8, the AIADMK-dominated Tamil Nadu assembly passed a resolution seeking economic sanctions against Colombo on issues concerning the Tamil community, including alleged war crimes.