When Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi over high tea at his residence in New Delhi Tuesday, issues such as financial assistance for the state with a debt burden of Rs 2.11 lakh crore, the release of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and a corpus fund to deal with natural disasters are likely to top her agenda.
This will be Jayalalithaa’s first visit to Delhi after being elected CM for the second consecutive term. Her previous visit was in June 2014, immediately after the victory of the NDA government.
The top BJP leadership is keen on an alliance with the AIADMK — the third largest party in Parliament — but sources close to Jayalalithaa said that her party would not gain much from such a deal.
“The party is unlikely to strike an alliance with the BJP. An unconditional alliance would compromise its current stand of playing a critical role in selective issues. What do we gain by joining the NDA? They may be desperate for an alliance as they need our support in Rajya Sabha and local body elections in Tamil Nadu later this year,” said a senior AIADMK leader.
AIADMK spokesperson Nanjil Sampath told The Indian Express that Jayalalithaa’s visit is significant because it comes at a time when the party has 50 MPs in Parliament — the largest ever for a regional party.
“Amma fulfilled all her promises. Many more social welfare schemes have been announced. But we need financial assistance from the Centre to fulfill them. People in Tamil Nadu are looking at her Delhi visit with much hope,” he said.
When Jayalalithaa arrives in Delhi on Tuesday, she will be welcomed by the 50 MPs at the airport, who are already camping in the national capital to make arrangements for her one-day visit. While a team is making security arrangements, the CM’s Toyota Prado car and two customised chairs, which she uses regularly, have been sent by rail. “Jayalalithaa may be meeting four Union ministers, including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, at Tamil Nadu House. Two chairs have been taken for the one-on-one meetings,” said a security official.
Apart from financial assistance, a senior government secretary said Jayalalithaa could ask Modi for help to set up a Rs 1,000-crore corpus fund for Tamil Nadu in the wake of increasing calamities and natural disasters.
“The release of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case is another pending issue. The Centre’s positive approach to the issue will help release them from prison after 25 years. Continuing attacks on Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan army, steps to be taken to retrieve Katchatheevu island from Sri Lanka and a memorandum for speedy formation of the Cauvery Management Board and Cauvery Water Regulation Board are likely to be taken up,” he added.
Meanwhile, following scathing attacks on Jayalalithaa during the Assembly elections, the BJP national leadership is in damage control mode, aiming for her support in the Rajya Sabha as well as for the presidential election next year.
In the run-up to the Assembly elections, Union minister Piyush Goyal had alleged that he could not meet Jayalalithaa even once in his 22-month tenure, a charge repeated by Pon Radhakrishnan, Union minister from Tamil Nadu. Party president Amit Shah also charged the AIADMK with corruption. All this came to an end on May 19 — when Assembly poll results were declared — as the PM telephoned Jayalalithaa to congratulate her.
The hurried call, much before the announcement of results, invited criticism from opposition parties in Tamil Nadu.
With the AIADMK facing flak for allegedly stalling major infrastructure projects commissioned by the DMK during the UPA regime, government departments have already despatched the status of such projects to the CM’s office. Sources said Jayalalithaa might also seek help from the Centre for implementation of an advanced Chennai city redevelopment plan.
After a recent meeting between Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Karan Adani, CEO of Adani Ports, who had asserted the need of completing Vizhinjam port project in Kerala, another proposed sea port at Colachel in southern Tamil Nadu, 50 km south of Vizhinjam, is expected to be discussed during Jayalalithaa’s Delhi visit.
Adani, after his meeting with Vijayan, denied reports that his group would withdraw from the Vizhinjam project to focus on Colachel, but Union Minister of State for Shipping and Highways Pon Radhakrishnan raised a threat that he wouldn’t hesitate to resign and protest along with BJP cadres to realise his dream project in Colachel. DMK and Congress MLAs in Kanyakumari have started organising protests against the seaport proj