New Delhi: Despite the red-carpet welcome given by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the newly elected Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on her first trip to the capital quite harshly demanded the resignation of not just one but two Union Cabinet ministers - P Chidambaram and Dayanidhi Maran – on two different grounds.
Jayalalithaa, while addressing a press conference, took everyone surprise by accusing the Union home minister for playing a "fraud on the nation". Chidambaram, she said, had "lost the election in 2009 (from Sivaganga), AIADMK candidate had won — the case is in the court. There is no softening in our stand. The position of Chidambaram is untenable."
Chidambaram, of course, was quick to rebut her by saying that Jayalalithaa may attract "contempt of court" and that she was in a habit of starting everything "on the wrong foot". But, in the process, her message to the Congress and the PM became quite clear — that she was her own person and was not desperate for new friends in the Centre.
So if the Congress-led UPA was looking for a new alliance in Tamil Nadu, it would not come on a platter. "They have to ask for support," Jayalalithaa was categorical. And, it needed no guesses as to who would write the terms of reference for such an engagement and what the terms could be.
For, not just Chidambaram, she directed her wrath and her harshest criticism at her political rival and UPA-ally, the DMK, and its many "jailed and about-to-go jailed family members and leaders".
Without bothering to nuance her statement, Jayalalithaa targeted Dayanidhi Maran, saying that he "should step down from the Council of Ministers immediately. If he doesn’t, the Prime Minister should drop him."
There was no ambiguity in her prescription. Even the PM may have got it from the Tamil Nadu CM — Maran, his textile minister who's also the DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s grandnephew, has to go first for Manmohan Singh to nurture any hope of striking a new alliance.
Currently under the CBI scanner for his role as telecom minister in UPA-I Cabinet, Maran has been facing the heat in the last few weeks from all opposition parties here. And, he could very well be one of the reasons why Prime Minister Singh on Tuesday not-so-subtly wooed Jayalalithaa.
But listing the reason for the DMK’s debacle in the recent polls, Jayalalithaa compared the previous Karunanidhi regime in Tamil Nadu with that of Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Idi Amin’s Uganda. "There was no freedom — there was all pervasive corruption, nepotism and monopoly of one family in every sphere of life."
However, she insisted that her government will not be "vindictive" and go after anyone. "It should be remembered that all cases against the DMK-Karunanidhi clan have been initiated by the UPA government in the Centre, of which the DMK is a part." Having rubbed the salt on the wound, she explained, "We are not looking at cases to file against anyone, we are only looking at how develop Tamil Nadu better." If there are specific complaints, it is another matter though, she underlined.
One more thing, as long as DMK is an ally of the Congress in the UPA, there would be no Sonia Gandhi-Jayalalithaa meeting. "It would not be appropriate," she added.