CHENNAI: Hectic backroom diplomacy before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Tamil Nadu has yielded rich dividends for the Centre. Sources say that the state government is likely to tone down its strident opposition to the Kudankulam nuclear plant and is learnt to have agreed to support the Centre’s efforts to allay apprehensions of villagers and work toward its early commissioning.
Sunday’s meeting between the Prime Minister and chief minister J Jayalalithaa was preceded by a telephonic conversation between the two leaders three days ago, during which, the two agreed to work together to break the Kudankulam impasse, highly placed sources said.
With the Centre and state having worked together before the two leaders met, the body language of the chief minister and her affable smile during her meeting with Singh on Sunday night reflected new-found but real warmth. “The meeting was cordial and fruitful. The Tamil Nadu chief minister was very particular about central intervention to resolve the Mullaperiyar dam imbroglio,” said sources.
The first perceptible sign of a rapprochement and the PMO mollifying Jayalalithaa on the contentious Kudankulam issue was evident from the fact that despite shooting off a 16-page memorandum, detailing a slew of demands to Singh, Jayalalithaa was cautious not to embarrass him by reiterating her opposition to the commissioning of the Kudankulam project. This is in stark contrast to her earlier stand on the power plant in recent months. Only a week ago she had objected to Singh’s announcement in Russia that the plant would be operationalized “in a couple of weeks.”