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DMK pulls out of UPA, but government sees no threat

NEW DELHI/CHENNAI, Mar 19, 2013, DHNS: 2:26 IST

Mayawati, Mulayam to continue outside support

Union Ministers AK Antony and P Chidambaram meet DMK chief M Karunanidhi at his residance in Chennai on Monday. PTI Photo
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Tuesday snapped its nine-year ties with the Congress over the controversial issue of war crimes against Tamils in Sri Lanka and a related resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Late at night, a DMK delegation led by senior MP T R Baalu met President Pranab Mukherjee and submitted to him a letter informing him that the southern ally was withdrawing support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

DMK ministers will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to submit their resignations.

After meeting the president, Baalu ruled out any reconsideration of the DMK move, something which the government was hoping. “Who said there is a window of resolution.

After having submitted the letter of withdrawal of support, where is the window of resolution,” he shot back to a journalist’s query.

Baalu parried questions on whether the DMK would offer outside support to the UPA. He said, “We will do whatever our leader (M Karunanidhi) decides.”

Despite the DMK pulling out, the UPA government faces no threat to its stability as it still enjoys a majority with backing from the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which support the government from outside.

However, the going may become tough for the Congress-led UPA as it depends on the two regional parties for survival and also to pass key bills.

With the DMK pullout, the strength of the UPA has reduced to 228.

The UPA, with the outside support of 58 MPs, including SP (22) and BSP (21), enjoys the majority in the House where the half-way mark is 271 (including Speaker). The DMK has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha and seven in the Rajya Sabha and had five ministers, including Karunanidhi’s son M K Alagiri.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram exuded confidence when he remarked: “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.”

Key managers in the Union government, who throughout the day were involved in damage control, were trying to placate the DMK—the second largest UPA constituent after the Congress—by working out a Parliamentary resolution on the issue.

However, with the DMK officially pulling out, there was no clarity on the proposed resolution. The main Opposition BJP also put paid to the government’s efforts for a resolution as it opposed any country-specific motion. The DMK wanted a strong resolution and use of words “genocide” and “international probe.” The Centre was not keen on making the changes.

The DMK has become the second major UPA partner to withdraw support after the Trinamool Congress of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who pulled out of the government in September 2012.

In Chennai, Karunanidhi virtually blamed the Centre for precipitating the crisis in the face of the “considerably diluted” US resolution against the “war crimes” in Sri Lanka against Tamil civilians in the final days of “Eelam War IV” in 2009. The resolution is now at the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) meeting in Geneva.

The DMK veteran, however, said the party was "ready" to reconsider its decision if Parliament “adopts an immediate resolution taking DMK's concerns on board.”

After effects of crisis over Lanka

Majority mark: 271

UPA without DMK 228


* Congress 203
* NCP 9
* RLD 5
* National Conference 3
* Others 8
* Parties supporting UPA from outside 58
* SP 22
* BSP 21
* RJD 3
* JD(S) 3
* Independents 9

Effective strength of Lok Sabha: (incl. speaker) 541

* Vacant 4

* Uproar in Parliament over Lankan Tamils issue
* BSP, SP back UPA; Finance Minister P Chidambaram says government is stable
* Opposition BJP claims government in minority now, but won’t table no-trust motion
* Revised draft resolution on Lankan Tamils watered down
* Protests continue across Tamil Nadu
* Sensex plummets 285 points after DMK pullout
* Lankan players worried about safety; no threat to IPL, says commissioner

Karunanidhi, DMK president: Since it would be a big harm to Tamil race if DMK continues in Central Government when a situation has been created which won’t benefit Eelam Tamils, DMK has decided to immediately pull out of the Union Ministry and the UPA.

Sonia Gandhi, UPA chairperson: I have nothing to say now.

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