M A I N   N E W S

Vaiko ditches Karunanidhi, aligns with Jaya
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Tiruchi, March 4
The ruling United People's Alliance (UPA) at the Centre today suffered a serious political setback as one of its constituents, Marumarlchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) quit the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Aliance (DPA) in Tamil Nadu and enterd into a poll alliance with its arch rival Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.

While the DMK was holding its conference here 300 km from the state capital, MDMK general secretary Vaiko today called on Ms. Jayalalithaa at her residence and inked the deal to contest 35 seats for the May 8 Assembly elections as an All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) ally.

Both leaders jointly addressed reporters and Ms. Jayalalithaa said, "The issue of POTA is a thing of past. The MDMK will contest 35 seats. We are here on a positive note, on a positive matter and we will be making only positive statements."

Mr. Vaiko was detained by the Jayalalithaa regime under POTA for 19 months.

Justifying his decision to quit the DMK-led alliance and joining hands with an arch rival of the UPA, Mr. Vaiko said: "Ideology has no place in electoral politics these days. This is only a seat sharing arrangment for the elections This is the finest hour in the history of Tamil Nadu politics."

The fact that politics produces strange bedfellows was evident today when a beaming Ms. Jayalalithaa and Mr Vaiko jointly said, "We will sweep the Assembly polls."

Reacting to the MDMK quitting the DPA, Mr. Karunanidhi told reporters here, "He (Vaiko) has not gone there for more seats. Since January when we resolved to expose the present ruling party in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Vaiko has never criticised Ms. Jayalalitha in a single public meeting. He was secretly negotiating with her."

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