Arjun Singh meets Karunanidhi amid speculation

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Chennai, May 28 (UNI) Senior Congress Leader and Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh called on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi at his residence this evening amid speculation the two leaders discussed about the Congress debacle in the Karnataka Assembly polls and the strategy to be drawn for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Talking to newspersons after a 45-minute meeting with Mr Karunanidhi at his Gopalapuram Residence, Mr Singh, however, denied having discussed politics and the general elections, due next year, during the meeting.

His visit comes in the backdrop of the Congress losing power in Karnataka and the problems faced by the party in the wake of rising prices of essential commodities.

Though Mr Singh described the meeting as a courtesy call, his meeting assumed political significance as it came a day after Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram met Mr Karunanidhi.

Refusing to attach any political significance to his visit, Mr Singh said he came to greet Mr Karunanidhi on his birthday which was fast approaching.

''Since I will not be in New Delhi on the day when Mr Karunanidhi celebrates his birthday, I came before hand to wish him.

''I thought it as a courtesy which I should extend,'' he said and denied his meeting was a crisis call coming in the wake of his remarks against Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Stating the next Lok Sabha elections and the present political situation in the country did not figure during the talks, Mr Arjun Singh, however, said ''Mr Karunanidhi wanted the Centre to bring down the prices of essential commodities, which we (the Union Government) are trying to do.'' MORE UNI GV RL US1903

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