NEW DELHI, India, Jan.30, Reuter: The Indian government sacked the widow of movie I do! MG Rmaachandran as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu state on Saturday, reigniting a battle of former leading ladies to succeed him

It said it had dismissed Janaki Ramachandran’s 24dayold administration, and imposed direct rule from New Delhi over the State’s 50 million Tamils,

The Press Trust of India (PT1) said the announcement followed a Cabinet meeting to discuss a report by Tamil Nadu Governor S.L. Khurana recommending the dismissal,

Ramachandran, always known as manager, was a crucial supporter of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhy’s efforts to end a Tamil separatist war in Sri Lanka. He died on December 24 at the age of 7O after 10 years as Chief Minister. Tamil Nadu’s continued backing of an agreement Gandhi signed last July with Colombo is considered by the Indian Central Government as vital to the accord’s success,

Janaki, 60 is fighting a challenge from her late husband’s costar and companion Jayalalitha, 40, to become Chief Minister

Police with clubs broke up unprecedented fighting between the two women’s supports in the State Assembly on Thursday. Prompting speculation that Gandhi’s Central Government would intervene.

Gandhi told reporters on Saturday he favored fresh elections in the State

Both Janaki and Jayalalitha factions have voiced support for the Indo Sirilanka accord since the death of the manager, but an election could bring their deep reservations about the agreement into the open.

Political sources in Madras say the Jayalalitha faction appears largely behind the accord. but the Janaki group contains some politicians strongly opposed to the deployment of Indian troops against ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka,

Jayalalitha had urged Gandhi on Friday to dissolve the Assembly and call a poll within three months to avert what she called a breakdown of law and order, and to restore political sanity.

Jayalalitha, dubbed by the Indian Press as a sultry siren of the screen, is well known to millions of Tamil villagers from her appearances in some of Mgr.’s 130 films.

Jayalalitha claims strong grassroots support in the party Mgr. founded, the all India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

Janaki, however, had enough support among Aiadmk Assembly members to persuade the State Governor to swear her in as Chief Minister on January 7. She was given three weeks to prove she had a majority in the house.

When the Assembly met to vote on Thursday legislators wrenched microphones from desks in the chamber to use as clubs, and hurled paperweights and sandals at opponents.

Twelve members were injured, including some from Gandhi’s Congress (I) Party which abstained instead of voting for Janaki as earlier expected.

Janaki won the vote of confidence taken after the fighting stopped but the chamber was almost empty except for her supporters. The Speaker had already disqualified Jayalalitha’s supporters from voting under a law barring party defections.

Gandhi on Saturday accused Janaki of political “horse trading”, and of trying to win over Congress supporters to her side.

Jayalalitha, in an attempt to bolster her position has called a party election on February 6 to confirm her as Aiadmk General Secretary.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 5, 1988