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Jaya episode an embarrassment to BJP-led coalition: Hegde - The Financial Express

Press Trust India ()
March 16, 1998

Title: Jaya episode an embarrassment to BJP-led coalition: Hegde
Author: Press Trust India
Publication: The Financial Express
Date: March 16, 1998

Lok Shakti leader Ramakrishna Hegde has admitted that the
Jayalalitha episode was a setback and an "embarrassment" to the
BJP-led coalition and said the AIADMK supremo had demanded a
"specific portfolio" for a "specific person=94.

However, Hegde said she had, at no point, asked for the dismissal
of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu either in a meeting of BJP
and its allies on March 8 or separately.

In an interview to 'Home TV', Hegde also criticised BJP's other
alliance partners like Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and
Navin Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal for raising their demands,
saying, "nobody who is a part of the coalition should add any
problems to it."

About Jayalalitha's alleged demand for the finance portfolio for
lone Janata Party MP Subramaniam Swamy, Hegde said, "as far as I
know, at some point Jayalalitha also mentioned a specific name
and a specific portfolio to the alliance leaders, particularly
Vajpayee and Advani".

Asked "was that specific name Swamy and was that portfolio
finance?" Hegde was quoted by a release from the private TV
channel as saying, "I think so."

To a question why Jayalalitha denied it, Hegde, whose party is an
ally of BJP, said "she might have changed her mind."

However he said the demand was not made at the meeting on March 8
with all the alliance partners but separately.

He said at the meeting "there was a bit of argument on both sides
on certain points raised by Jayalalitha", and added her state-
based demands had been incorporated "and it looked as if she was
happy".

Hegde said on the episode. "it is a great setback and no doubt
about it. It's very true it's an embarrassment. This should not
have happened at all.

He said Jayalalitha had raised four points making Tamil an
official language, decision on nationalisation of rivers, the
Cauvery project and raising the height of the Periyar dam.

At the end of the discussion, Hegde said he thought there was a
kind of consensus on these issues, though they were not agreed
upon, and the main spirit of the demands had been incorporated in
the document being prepared. He said instead of saying all rivers
were going to be nationalised, the document said there should be
a national water policy which was necessary in a large country
like India. "So, in a different way, we tried to accommodate her
viewpoints and it looked as if she was happy," he said.

About George Fernandes' comments on creating conditions for MNCs
to leave the country, Hegde said, "this kind of statement is
going to create a lot of misunderstanding and perhaps loss of
confidence among foreign investors."

On BJP leader murli Manohar Joshi's statement that the economic
reforms needed reform. he said. "in such matters. hasty
decisions are very bad."

Accepting that the BJP-led coalition would not be strong to start
with. Hegde said its future would depend on "how we function".

He said the people should feel confident that the government and
ministers spoke in one voice and did not contradict each other.

Even if there is some difference of opinion, it should be settled
within the confines of the government, he said. Warning other
allies against threatening to withdraw support and trying to take
undue advantage, he said, was bad. If a government functioned
under stress, it was not bad at all because it would be at its
best behaviour.

He said the strength of a government would ultimately depend on
its performance.

About speculations that he could be the new external affairs
minister and whether he would prefer the finance ministry, Hegde
said he made no distinction between one responsibility or the
other. He said he understood "fairly well the work and
intricacies of handling finance".

Hegde said the BJP-led government needed to pay attention to the
apprehensions of the Muslim community. "We have to convince them
that their fears are unfounded."

Asked whether the places of worship in Kashi and Mathura would be
safe under a BJP-led coalition government, he said, "in the
national agenda we have not touched this at all.

They should always be safe. I don't think there will be any
danger."


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