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Miffed allies force Jayalalithaa to put off her campaign tour

B. Kolappan



Jayalalithaa

CHENNAI: Unhappy over what they saw as a raw deal meted out to them in allocation of constituencies, the allies of the AIADMK, barring the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), held urgent discussions on Thursday to chalk out their plan of action.

While the prospect of a third front was in the air, the leaders of these parties put off taking any decision for a day or two, giving the AIADMK a breather to iron out differences. The strident move by her allies forced AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa to postpone her plan to embark on her election campaign on Friday.

In a statement here, the AIADMK announced that she could not go ahead with plan since seat-sharing talks with the alliance partners were not yet over. While there were attempts by intermediaries to avert the emergence of a third front, Communist Party of India (CPI) State secretary D. Pandian told reporters that there was no official contact from the AIADMK.

The leaders of these parties expected an open proposal from the AIADMK leadership to break the impasse that arose because of the party announcing its list of candidates in 160 constituencies, including many that were on the wish list of allies. They also wanted the AIADMK to bring back the MDMK into the alliance.

“It is not our intention to break away from the alliance. It is Ms. Jayalalithaa's attitude that is forcing us to think of other options,” one of the leaders said. On Thursday morning, besides Mr. Pandian, CPI (M) State secretary G Ramakrishnan, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) leader Vijayakant, Puthiya Tamizhagam president K. Krishnasamy and All India Moovendhar Munnetra Munnani leader N. Sethuraman participated in the meeting. They had a second round of talks in the evening.

When asked whether he had any plan to float a third front, Mr. Vijayakant said, “Don't be in a hurry. We are continuing our discussions. We will let you know our decision on Friday.”

Earlier in the day, Mr. Pandian avoided giving a direct reply to a question on the formation of a third front. All he would say was: “We are committed to defeating and removing the DMK-Congress combine. We are together in our effort,” he said.

Dr. Sethuraman hinted that a third front would not be in the interest of the alliance partners. “It will lead to the victory of the DMK in the elections,” he said.

The leaders who were part of the discussion said they were under tremendous pressure from the rank and file of the parties to form a third front since the AIADMK leadership had humiliated them.

“We don't mind her releasing the list of constituencies the AIADMK is planning to contest. But she should have held back constituencies sought by the alliance partners. This has been done when we are still holding talks to finalise an agreement,” a leader said.

The CPI (M) had given a wish list of 16 constituencies, but Ms. Jayalalithaa has already announced candidates in 14 of these constituencies. For the CPI, she has not spared even one of the six sitting constituencies.

Angry cadre of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam burnt effigies of Ms. Jayalalithaa for the second consecutive day. An effigy was burnt at the DMDK office.

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