Vol 3, PW 6 (14 Apr 99) People & Policy

It has all the makings of a high-drama.

On Monday this week, Jayalalitha Jayaram, the former film actress turned Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and scourge of the BJP, arrived at Delhis Maurya Sheraton Hotel with 48 suitcases, fully prepared for a long stay. Last week, Jayalalitha did what she has been threatening for months: a withdrawal of support to the BJP and the resignation of her two stooges in the BJP-led cabinet.

Without the support of her 18 MPs in parliament, the BJP can not win a vote of confidence. In public, Jayalalithas reason for disowning the BJP was its decision to fire Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, an outspoken chief of the Indian navy.

In reality, it is because the BJP has not listened to her demands:- 1) Removal of Vazhappady Ramamurthy as Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas with her choice of replacement. 2) The appointment of her ally Subramaniam Swamy, President of the Janata Party as Minister of Defence.

3) The allotment of the Ministries of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Communications, Chemicals and Fertilisers, Surface Transport and Department of Personnel to her nominees. 4) Withdrawal of the suspension notice on Hari Bhasker, her former Chief Secretary.

5) The appointment of her nominees as Chairman of port trusts at Mangalore and non official directors at Shipping Corporation of India (SCI). 6) The sacking of George Fernandes, Minister of Defence.

Vajpayee shows no sign of accepting so Jayalalitha will spend the next few days in Delhi pushing for a No Confidence vote and stitching up alliances with opposition parties.