Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jayalalithaa says DMK seat-sharing differences with Congress a 'farce'

jayalalitha-1Chennai, Mar 10 : All India Anna Dravida MunnetraKazhagam (AIADMK) chief Jayalalithaa hit out at her political rival Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam(DMK) on Thursday by terming its seat sharing differences with the Congress for the upcoming Asembly polls in Tamil Nadu as a ''farce''.
The real reason, she said, was the sharing of the spectrum loot.

"The farce has been played out. The cat is finally out of the bag. The truth is now there for all to see. The DMK and the Congress, which successfully shared the Spectrum loot between themselves, have ironed out all differences and come to an understanding on sharing of seats for the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections," said Jayalalithaa in a statement.

The AIADMK chief accused Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MKarunanidhi of threatening to pull out only when his party''s interests were affected, and termed it to be a mere drama.

"The whole drama comes as no surprise to me. We saw this happen earlier, at the time of ministry formation at the Centre in 2009. Karunanidhi flew to Delhi. He put forth his demands. When the Congress leadership resisted, he flew into pretended rage. He returned to Chennai, apparently in a huff, with all his MPs in tow, boycotting the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister," said Jayalalithaa.

"The bluff paid off and Karunanidhi got plum ministerial berths for his son Azhagiri, his nephew Dayanidhi Maran and his favourite daughter''s close associate, A Raja!" she added.

Terming all this muscle-flexing to be mere drama, Jayalalithaa said: "When it comes to issues relating to the public -- like when hapless, innocent Tamils are massacred in Sri Lanka; like when Karnataka refuses to give Tamil Nadu its due share of Cauvery water; like when Kerala refuses to implement the Supreme Court directive on Mullai Periyar; like when the Centre keeps repeatedly hiking petroleum prices precipitating a cascading effect on the prices of all products; like when Indian fishermen are massacred at sea; like when farmers driven into a debt trap are pushed to suicide -- Karunanidhi never threatens to pull out of the Central Government."

"He merely sends letters to the Prime Minister. But when he wants plum ministerial postings for his children and sundry relatives, when his near and dear ones are likely to be picked up by the CBI for siphoning away national resources, then Karunanidhi will put up a show of bravado citing some other reasons. And the Congress leadership will put up a show of defiance to fool its innocent grassroots cadres and then capitulate giving the impression that the week-long face-off was for the sake of two or three legislature seats!" she added.

The impasse between the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) over seat sharing for the upcoming Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu came to an end on Tuesday evening with the former being allotted 63 seats.

The deal was announced after DMK Minister Dayanidhi Maran held two rounds of talks with Senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee.

No entrance exam for MBBS in TN: Minister

Chennai, Mar 10 :The Tamil Nadu Government today clarified there would be no entrance examination for admission to MBBS course in the State and admission for year 2011-12 would only be based on marks obtained in 10+2 examinatins.

Referring to reports the Supreme Court had given its nod to the Medical Council of India (MCI) to conduct Common Entrance Examination for admission to MBBS course throughout the country, State Health Minister M R K Panneerselvam, in a statement here, said status quo would continue in the state.

He said the State Government had challenged in Madras High Court the December 21 MCI notification which sought to make entrance test mandatory for admission to the course and obtained a stay on January 6.

The Union Health Ministry, which had convened a conference of State Health Ministers in Hyderabad from January 11 to 13 to discuss the issue, had also decided against holding common entrance test, Mr Panneerselvam pointed out.

The Health Ministry had also written to the MCI to withdraw its notification, he said.

He said when the case came up before the Supreme Court on March 7, the counsel for the State Government told the court that the Government had obtained a stay order against MCI notification in Madras High court.

Congress-DMK hold talks to identify constituencies

Chennai: After sealing the seat sharing deal, the DMK and Congress Thursday set in motion the process of identifying the constituencies where the two key UPA partners would contest in the April 13 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls.

"The first round of talks has begun," Congress state unit President K V Thankgabalu told reporters after a 45-minute meeting at the DMK party headquarters here.
Describing the talks as "cordial", Thankgabalu said he hope that the identification of the constituencies would be finalised later in the day today. 

The five-member Congress Election Panel Committee, including Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan, held the talks with the DMK chief and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. 

DMK and Congress on Tuesday finalised a seat sharing agreement, under which Congress will contest 63 seats and DMK in 121. 

DMK-Congress seat-sharing fracas theatrics: Jayalalithaa

Chennai, Mar 10 : Opposition AIADMK Leader J Jayalalithaa today termed as ''theatrics,'' the alleged drama enacted by the ruling DMK and the Congress over the seat-sharing issue, saying it was aimed at diverting the people's attention from the ongoing probe into the multi-crore 2G spectrum scam and other issues.

In a statement here, she said ''the theatrics that we saw over the last few days on the seat-sharing issue between the Congress and the DMK for the April 13 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls might have surprised the media and the cadres of those parties.'' The DMK leader expresseed unhappiness over the number of seats demanded by the Congress, then threatened to pull his party out of the UPA Coalition government and the DMK’s Union Ministers went to Delhi ostensibly to present their resignation letters.

''But they did not resign and instead a reapprochement was worked out,'' she added.

''In the week-long process, the media and the people were made to forget about the spectrum investigations.

''They were made to forget about price rise and a myriad other problems.

Ms Jayalalithaa said she was not surprised at this drama as it had happened earlier during the UPA-II Ministry formation in 2009 when DMK President and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi boycotted the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister and got plum ministerial berths for his party MPs.

''All this muscle-flexing is mere drama,'' she alleged.

CBI to question Kanimozhi before March 31

New Delhi, March 10 : Kanimozhi - a DMK MP and daughter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi - will be questioned by the CBI before March 31 in connection with the 2G spectrum scam, well informed sources said Thursday.

"Her questioning is imminent. Kanimozhi will be questioned before March 31," a top Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official told IANS.

The CBI sources said Kanimozhi would be summoned for questions related to the flow of over Rs.200 crore from Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa's DB Realty firm to Kalaignar TV, a regional Tamil channel in which Karunanidhi's family members allegedly have a majority stake. Kanimozhi alone is said to have 20 percent stake in the TV channel.

Balwa is one of the accused in the scam and his Swan Telecom was allegedly favoured by former communications minister and DMK MP A. Raja in the allocation of second generation (2G) spectrum licences.

CBI is probing if there was any quid pro quo under which Balwa transferred funds to the TV channel and in return got 2G spectrum licences at throwaway prices. Balwa is already in jail along with Raja.

CBI has been asked by the Supreme Court to file charges in the case by March 31 and the sources said Kanimozhi's examination is important for finalising the chargesheet.

The sources said Sharat Kumar, managing director of Kalaignar TV, would also be questioned in the next couple of days as he has already been summoned by the CBI March 8. Kumar has denied the flow of funds from Balwa's company.

The sources, however, ruled out the questioning of Karunanidhi's second wife Dayalu Ammal as she is believed to be a "sleeping partner" in the channel and "won't fetch any information".

DMK, Congress sign pact, but tensions persist

Chennai, March 9  Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK and the Congress signed a pact Wednesday to jointly fight the assembly polls, a day after the DMK made a dramatic U-turn and let the latter contest from 63 of 234 seats.

DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who had only last week called the Congress demand for 63 seats 'unjustified', signed the deal for his party. The Congress was represented by state chief K.V. Thangkabalu.

Speaking to reporters later, Thangkabalu said: 'The Congress will be contesting in 63 seats. The choice of constituencies will be decided by the five-member committee of each party.'

The chief minister did not address the media after the signing.

According to informed sources, the Congress will put up candidates in the 48 seats it contested in 2006. The remaining seats it will contest April 13 will be decided after mutual discussions.

Although the DMK and Congress have patched up, many political activists and pundits feel that the strains in their relationship are unlikely to go away.

The run up to Wednesday's agreement saw a dramatic turn of events.

On Saturday, a peeved DMK withdrew its six ministers from the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and dumped the Congress in the state, ending a seven-year alliance.

DMK members celebrated the decision with crackers and sweets. And many Congress activists felt relieved to come out of what they felt were DMK's clutches.

But the DMK capitulated Tuesday after the Congress, which had propped up the Karunanidhi government since 2006, refused to budge from its claim for 63 seats.

The Congress demand was met with the DMK, PMK and IUML giving back one seat each from their own quota.

On Wednesday, PMK founder leader S.Ramadoss said: 'Giving back a seat after it was allotted has not happened earlier. But we have done it in the interests of the coalition.'

He hoped that the DMK, PMK and Congress would now work together.

Political commentators -- and the opposition camp -- are not sure that will happen.

DMDK leader Panruti S. Ramachandran said: 'The bitterness will continue between the leaders and cadres of the two parties (DMK and Congress). They might have stitched the alliance but the scar will remain.'

Marxist leader T.K. Rangarajan told IANS: 'It is pure surrender by the DMK to the Congress. The DMK wants the Congress more than the other way around.'

Noted commentator Cho Ramaswamy echoed the sentiments.

'Now the Congress votes may not go to the DMK and vice versa. Also, the Congress may not be as friendly to the DMK as before.'

Seat sharing talks grind to a halt in AIADMK camp

Chennai, Mar 9 : Even as the ruling DMK successfuly completed the seat sharing exercise with its allies after a brief hitch with the main ally Congress, the stalemate now seems to be in the opposition AIADMK camp.

The AIADMK, which normally used to take the lead in finalising the pacts with its allies and announcing the candidates, is lagging behind this time as its allies, the MDMK and Left parties are anxiously waiting for a call from the AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa.

There is a lull in the AIADMK camp after ms Jayalalithaa signed the agreement with DMDK led by actor-politician Vijayakanth on March 4, allotting 41 seats to him.

"There is no development", CPI state unit secretary D Pandian said when asked about reports that the party would be invited this evening to sign seat sharing agreement.

"We have not received any call from AIADMK till this evening", was the response when UNI contacted the CPI(M) office and same was the position with MDMK also.

Sources in MDMK said that after a couple of rounds of talks with the AIADMK poll panel, led by former Minister O Panneerselvam, the party, had presented its demand for 35 seats, the same number it had contested in the 2006 Assembly elections.

Deadlock over AIADMK-Left talks

Chennai, March 9  The AIADMK and the two main Left parties remained deadlocked Saturday over sharing of seats for the Tamil Nadu assembly elections.

Leaders of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) told IANS that there was no progress in the talks.

'There is no news,' CPI-M state chief G. Ramakrishnan said. Added another party colleague: 'It is for the AIADMK to decide. We have nothing more to say.'

In 2006, as part of the DMK-led front, the CPI-M contested in 13 seats and won nine while the CPI contested in 10 and won six.

In 2009, the two parties parted ways with the DMK after withdrawing support to the United Progressive Alliance government.