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Karunanidhi doubtful of BJP retaining Vajpayee as PM

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, MARCH 13. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president, M. Karunanidhi, today expressed doubts whether the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would retain Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister if the party got majority in the Lok Sabha election.

The way the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, was talking about collective leadership in the party at his election meetings created the suspicion, Mr. Karunanidhi said here.

The DMK leader denied that he had ever made a statement that there was a rift between Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani. He had only said the poll alliance in Tamil Nadu was between Mr. Advani and the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, and explained the reasons for his statement.

Reacting to Mr. Advani's praise for the State Government's "effective support to the Centre" in combating terrorism, Mr. Karunanidhi said it was Mr. Advani who assured Opposition leaders that the Centre would not allow any State to misuse the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) when it was passed by Parliament. But the Centre failed to pull up the Tamil Nadu Government when it arrested Vaiko, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary, P. Nedumaran, Tamilar Desiya Iyakkam leader, and others under the Act. The Centre's "inaction" only showed that it was behind the "misuse of POTA" by the State Government.

Referring to Mr. Advani's statement that Congress leaders met him several times demanding action against the DMK on the basis of the Jain Commission report on the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Mr. Karunanidhi pointed out that when Mr. Vajpayee asked how the Congress could align with the DMK, the Congress leader, Pranab Mukherjee, said the final report of the Commission had not made any charge against DMK leaders.

Not only Mr. Mukherjee, the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, also made it clear that there was no link between the DMK and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Mr. Karunanidhi said.

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