Jayalalithaa to counter Indian Government’s review petition over Rajiv Gandhi killers

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 00:30 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Chennai/Reuters: Chief Minister of India’s southern Tamil Nadu province, Jayaram Jayalalithaa, on Monday (February 24) said that the provincial government would oppose the review petition filed by the Indian Government in Supreme Court over release of killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi was killed while campaigning in the state by an ethnic Tamil suicide bomber from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist rebel group from neighbouring Sri Lanka. Twenty-six people were convicted in 1998 for their roles in planning and carrying out the murder. Ethnic Tamils are the majority community in Tamil Nadu and a minority in Sri Lanka where the government finally crushed the LTTE rebels in 2009, after a 26-year war. India’s Government filed a petition at the Supreme Court arguing that Jayalalithaa’s State Government did not have the power to free the ethnic Tamil convicts. The court blocked the Chief Minister from releasing three of them until the case was resolved and scheduled a hearing for 6 March. “They have already written to us that they are going to file a review petition and we will counter it in court. Q: Is there any legal step that the State Government is planning to take? A: Of course the State Government will do whatever is necessary legally but all that can’t be discussed in a conference with the media persons. Whatever we have to say will be said in Court through our counsel,” said Jayalalithaa. On Tuesday (18 February), the Supreme Court of India had commuted the death sentences of three accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination to life term because of an 11-year delay in deciding on their petitions for mercy. The Court had then granted powers to the Tamil Nadu government to exercise its remission powers under the Sections 432 and 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc). On Wednesday (19 February), the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa, decided to release all the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Jayalalithaa’s move was a bid to woo voters in her state ahead of the parliamentary elections, by showing that she can outdo her rivals when it comes to supporting Tamils and standing up to New Delhi, analysts said. While, speaking about the party’s agenda in the upcoming general elections, Jayalalithaa, who is also the Chief of India’s regional All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) said policy of the party will be out soon. “Our slogan for the election is peace, prosperity and progress. Moreover, the agenda of our campaigning would be discussed and formulated by our election manifesto which will be out very soon,” she said. Jayalalithaa further added that her party aims to win the 40 seats in Tamil Nadu for their alliance both Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI (M). “We aim to win all the 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry for our alliance so my efforts will be concentrating here,” added Jayalalithaa. Congress’ national rival, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is forecast to emerge as the biggest party in the election, but to fall short of the 272 seats needed for a majority. Whoever forms India’s next government will likely have to win over some regional parties and form a coalition. Jayalalithaa is a key player, with her party forecast to pick up as many as 23 seats, according to an opinion poll last month by pollsters CSDS for the CNN-IBN news channel. Her party said last year it wanted her to become prime minister.