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Vajpayee invites BJP leaders to Delhi for talks

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI Sept. 13. The BJP State leaders today briefed the Prime Minister, A.B.Vajpayee, on political developments in Tamil Nadu and sought his "guidance" on finalising an alliance strategy for the Lok Sabha elections.

With the DMK snapping ties with the Tamil Nadu unit, the core committee members met the Prime Minister at the Chennai airport before he left for New Delhi, after a day's visit to the city.

During the 10-minute interaction, the leaders are said to have explained "chronologically what happened between the DMK and BJP in the past one and a half years". The Prime Minister suggested that the core committee meet him in Delhi for an elaborate discussion on the political situation in Tamil Nadu.

Later talking to newsmen, the all-India secretary, L.Ganesan, said "We sought the Prime Minister's guidance on how to move about in Tamil Nadu." As the meeting was cut short to barely 10 minutes, the Prime Minister suggested that the core committee meet him, the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K.Advani, and the party president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, in New Delhi soon.

Asked whether the party was looking at a political realignment in Tamil Nadu, Mr.Ganesan said that as of now the alliance with the DMK continued at the national level and the future course would be decided later.

On whether the State Government's recent banning of animal sacrifice in temples and introducing a law against forcible conversions improved the prospects of the BJP renewing its ties with the AIADMK, Mr. Ganesan said alliances did not "depend on alliance partners banning sacrifice of cows or goats", but on whether they were agreeable to the national agenda and the BJP leadership, he said.

The State president, C.P.Radhakrishnan, the Union Ministers, S.Thirunavukkarasar and PonRadhakrishnan; and the general secretaries, H.Raja and V. Kumaravelu, took part in the meeting.

The Prime Minister left for New Delhi at 8.45 p.m., one-hour behind schedule. He was seen off by the Governor, P. S. Ramamohan Rao, Mr. Thirunavukkarasar, the Union Minister, T. R. Baalu, the State Ministers, O. Paneerselvam, C. Ponnaiyan and D. Jayakumar, and State Government officials.

Rare bonhomie

Earlier in the day, Mr. Vajpayee was accorded a warm reception at the airport by Mr. Ramamohan Rao; the Madras High Court Chief Justice, B. Subhashan Reddy; a host of Union Ministers, State Ministers and officials, leaders of key political parties, the Editor-in-chief of The Hindu, N. Ram, and the Joint Managing Director, N. Murali.

Among those present on the tarmac to receive the Prime Minister were the Union Ministers, M. Kannappan, Gingee Ramachandran, Mr. Baalu, A.K. Moorthy, N.T. Shanmugham, Mr. Thirunavukkarasar and Mr. Radhakrishnan; Mr. Ponnaiyan, Mr. Paneerselvam and Mr. Jayakumar; the Chief Secretary, Lakshmi Pranesh; the Director-General of Police, I.K. Govind, and representatives of the defence services.

Leaders of the BJP and its alliance parties, including the DMK general secretary, K. Anbazhagan, and the party treasurer, Arcot N. Veerasamy; the PMK founder, S. Ramadoss, and the party president, G.K. Mani; Mr. Ganesan and Mr. Radhakrishnan, and the MDMK presidium chairman, L. Ganesan, too greeted the Prime Minister with shawls.

Just before his flight landed, there was a rare bonhomie among the leaders of the parties as they were waiting at the VVIP shamiana. While Mr. Paneerselvam and Mr. Jayakumar greeted the leaders of the DMK, the MDMK, the PMK and the BJP, Mr. Ponnaiyan was seen in an animated interaction with Mr. Anbazhagan and Mr. Veerasamy.

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