Despite DMK pullout, Govt not 'lame duck': Ministers

Last Updated 20 March 2013, 07:38 IST

Unfazed by the DMK's withdrawal of support to the UPA, Government today asserted it was "absolutely stable" and not a "lame duck" and said it will move amendments to the resolution on Sri Lanka at UNHRC to send a "resolute message" on that country's human rights.

The government fielded three senior ministers -- P Chidambaram, Kamal Nath and Manish Tewari -- before the media to insist that DMK's demands were in the process of being considered and wondered why the ally changed its position after promising to reconsider its decision to withdraw support. The UPA's second biggest constituent with 18 Lok Sabha MPs quit the alliance yesterday.

With questions being raised about the stability of the government,  Kamal Nath, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, firmly said, "We are not a lame duck government."
"The government is neither lame nor is it a duck. We are absolutely stable. No political party has come out to challenge our majority," he said.

Stating that India wanted the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to adopt a "strong" resolution on Sri Lanka, Chidambaram said India will move amendments to the draft to send a "resolute message" to that country on alleged human rights violations of Tamils and "goad" it to have an independent inquiry, a key demand of the DMK.

The Finance Minister also dismissed allegations that India had sought dilution of the strongly-worded resolution by the US, saying it was an absolute "canard".

He said DMK's other demand for a resolution to be adopted by Parliament on Sri Lankan Tamils issue was also in the process of consultations with other parties.

Chidambaram claimed that the DMK was aware of the government's position on the issue but had changed its position between the night of March 18 and morning of March 19.

"We are not aware of the reasons why the DMK changed its position between the night of March 18 and the morning of March 19," Chidambaram said, while noting that DMK supremo M Karunanidhi had said the party would reconsider decision to withdraw support if Parliament adopts a resolution before the end of current sittings on March 22.
At the same time, the three ministers asserted that there was no threat to the government despite DMK's pull out.

"Just because one ally pulled out, the government has not become weak... There is no political instability or political uncertainty... Nobody has questioned our stability except for few voices in the media," Chidambaram said.

Asked whether the government will test its stability by going in for Confidence Motion, the ministers rejected any such possibility. "The question does not arise as we have the majority," Chidambaram said.

Rejecting the impression that the UPA is now weaker and "on more crutches", Chidambaram said, "We are in the government. It is our duty to steer the ship through the maelstorm and our hands are firmly on the wheel."

After DMK pullout, speculation has mounted that the UPA will be vulnerable to pressures from its crucial outside supporters SP(22) and BSP(21) who together account for 43 seats.

Reiterating that there should be "no doubt" about the government's stability or any "worry", Kamal Nath said it will continue with its policy decisions.

"We are absolutely, absolutely stable. If there is any test, it is on the floor of the House. But no political party has challenged the stability of the government," he said.

With the DMK pullout, the strength of the UPA in the Lok Sabha has been reduced to 224 but it enjoyed the support of 281 MPs that included those of outside supporting parties. The Lok Sabha has 539 MPs at present as four seats are vacant. The half-way mark is 27
Asked whether the Congress would try to rope in some other parties, Nath said in politics, doors are always open.

Referring to DMK's demands, Chidambaram said the government had begun the process of formulating amendments to the draft resolution before the UNHRC.

"The amendments were finalised yesterday," he said, adding India's Permanent Representative to the UNHRC is in Delhi and he will be given "suitable instructions to move the amendments" at the UN meet.

He rejected reports that India was diluting the resolution, terming it as a "canard".
"India's position has always been and remains that the UNHRC should adopt a strong resolution that would send a resolute message to Sri Lanka and goad Sri Lanka to accept an independent and credible investigation," Chidambaram said.

Talking to reporters separately, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the government is stable.

"We are considering what will be our next step with regards to the demands raised by DMK. But notwithstanding that, the government is perfectly stable and there is no problem at all," he said.

The Minister said the government is discussing the issue of the type of resolution and whether there should be one at all.

In reply to a poser on the stand on BJP, he said it was upto the Opposition party to support it. "We will decide our stand and they will decide on theirs," he said.

(Published 20 March 2013, 06:50 IST)

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