DMK pulls out, but govt safe

While the Centre expressed willingness to consider the DMK’s key demands on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, the Dravidian party on Tuesday formally ended its nine-year-old alliance with the UPA. DMK Lok Sabha floor leader T.R. Baalu met President Pranab Mukherjee late Tuesday evening and handed over a letter from party chief M. Karunanidhi withdrawing support to the Union government. The five DMK ministers at the Centre are likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to submit their resignations.
While its numbers in the Lok Sabha dwindled following the DMK’s exit, the “outside support” provided by the Samajwadi Party, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD will give the UPA government a much-needed lifeline. The Congress too exuded confidence that its government remained stable and secure despite the DMK’s departure. The BJP, however, said the UPA had been reduced to a minority, and that it should quit office immediately.
Finance minister P. Chidambaram said after the DMK announced withdrawal: “Let me assure you that the stability of the government and the continuance of the government are not an issue. The government is absolutely stable and enjoys a majority in the Lok Sabha.”
DMK president M. Karunanidhi announced its decision to pull the plug on the UPA at a hurriedly-called press conference at the party headquarters in Chennai. But he left a small window open for repairing the nine-year alliance, saying his party was ready to “reconsider” its move if Parliament adopted a resolution before March 21 incorporating two amendments he had urged India to move on the US-sponsored resolution at the UN Human Rights Council now in session in Geneva.
The two suggested amendments would condemn Sri Lanka for “genocide” and war crimes committed by its armed forces in the last stages of the war that saw the defeat of the LTTE; and “establishment of a credible and independent international commission of investigation in a time-bound manner into allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, violations of international human rights law, violations of international humanitarian law and crime of genocide against Tamils”.
Sounding combative, Mr Karunanidhi accused the UPA government of “watering down” the US resolution against Sri Lanka, let alone taking his amendments seriously. “When a situation has been created that will not benefit Eelam Tamils, it will be a big harm to the Tamil race if the DMK continues in government; (therefore) it has decided the DMK will withdraw from the Cabinet and the coalition”, he said, reading out from a prepared statement.
To a question if the DMK will reconsider quitting the UPA if his demand for a resolution in Parliament was met by the government, Mr Karunanidhi said: “We are ready to change our opinion”.
In New Delhi, the Samajwadi Party termed the DMK’s decision as “blackmail”. SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said: “No one has pulled out, this is only to blackmail the government. It is stable.” BSP supremo Mayawati too said: “The UPA government is not in a minority, we will support it.”
BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters in New Delhi that the government should leave office and fresh polls be held. He said: “The government is on ventilator. It does not have a majority now. It should go.” He then added: “We are always ready to face elections.”
The DMK has 18 members in the Lok Sabha, five of whom are ministers, including Mr Karunanidhi’s son M.K. Alagiri, who holds the chemicals and fertilisers portfolio. Jagatratchagan, Napoleon, Palani Manickam and Gandhi Selvan are ministers of state.
DMK sources said Mr Karunanidhi’s younger son Stalin, his heir apparent, had forced the decision to quit the UPA, even going to the extent of threatening “sanyas” if his advice was not heeded. He told his father the party would suffer a serious erosion of credibility, badly affecting its chances in the 2014 elections, if it remained in the UPA government while many in Tamil Nadu, particularly students, held protests across the state.
DMK parliamentary leader T.R. Baalu took the evening flight to New Delhi to hand over Mr Karunanidhi’s letter to the President formally withdrawing the party’s support to the Manmohan Singh government. DMK cadres celebrated the decision by bursting crackers and distributing sweets across Chennai.

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