Post Modi-Jaya talks, dy speaker may go to AIADMK

BJP goes all out to garner support

Post Modi-Jaya talks, dy speaker may go to AIADMK

A day after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and left the South Block with a “happy note”, speculations were abuzz on Wednesday that the BJP is going all out to ensure the AIADMK’s support for its regime.

On Tuesday, Jayalalitha was all praise for Modi and the manner in which his party won an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha polls, said party insiders. The insiders’ account included the breaking of the ice between the two leaders after the bitter phase of electioneering.

So much so that the BJP’s floor managers in Parliament on Wednesday spoke of, to begin with, offering the post of Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker to the AIADMK, which could nominate M Thambidurai.

Leader of 37 AIADMK MPs in the Lok Sabha, Thambidurai had served in the same role between 1985 and 1989 when then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi offered it to the AIADMK. Incidentally, Thambidurai met some BJP leaders on Tuesday.

The BJP’s game plan, according to sources close to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu, was not to offer the post to a decimated Congress though, conventionally, it has gone to the main opposition party.

The new government did not appear to be intent on seeing the Congress in the main opposition chair as many BJP leaders remember the UPA’s “raw deal” to them on many accounts in the last 10 years. The grand old party does not have the seats required to bag the status.

Also, the BJP was keen to prevent the non-Congress parties from forming a bloc in Parliament, as proposed by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which has 20 MPs, is likely to be kept in good humour by offering the BJD the chairmanship of key parliamentary panels like the Public Accounts Committee, which was normally offered to the main opposition party.

Incidentally, both the AIADMK and the BJD maintained that the TMC’s talk of a common group in Parliament was a non-starter.

They would rather look forward to what the government had to offer.

However, both the BJP and AIADMK sources conceded that besides the post of Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker, Jayalalitha would expect Modi to offer much more. At least two Cabinet and two Ministers of State berths would be in order to “firm up” the support of the AIADMK, which has 10 MPs in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA lacks majority to pass any legislation.

But any such proposal would not be discussed until the budget session in July, by which time, Jayalalitha and Modi are expected to have another round of discussion. The most significant part in Tuesday’s first round of their 50-minute talk was a 10-minute one-on-one discussion.

It happened at the fag end when their aides withdrew and the two leaders reportedly took up key issues, including the possibility of the AIADMK’s support for the NDA was understood to have come up.

Earlier, as a show of sincerity of his approach, Modi called up Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Jayalalitha’s presence to brief him on Tamil Nadu’s issues.

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