NEW DELHI/CHENNAI: The DMK on Tuesday night withdrew support from the UPA government over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue and ruled out any reconciliation, a move that makes the government vulnerable despite its assertions of having a parliamentary majority.
A five-member DMK delegation headed by Mr T R Baalu handed over the letter by the party supremo Mr M Karunanidhi to the President Mr Pranab Mukherjee at 10.30 p.m. at Rashtrapati Bhavan withdrawing support of its 18 Lok Sabha MPs to the UPA government.
DMK ministers will meet the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to submit their resignations, Mr Baalu told reporters after meeting Mr Mukherjee.
“The letter of withdrawal of support from our party chief Karunanidhi has been handed over to the President just now. Tomorrow, our ministers will hand over their resignations to Prime Minister before 12 noon,” he said.
Replying to questions about possibility of a reconciliation with the Congress over the issue, Mr Baalu said, “I don’t think there is any little chance of reconciliation because the government has miserably let us down as far as Sri Lankan Tamils issue is concerned. For more than two years we approached the government.”
Asked about the possibility of DMK extending outside support to the government, Mr Baalu said, “Each and every aspect of your question will be discussed in headquarters. My leader Karunanidhi will decide. Whatever action that has to be taken, has to be taken by the headquarters only.”
Asked about any window of reconciliation in the wake of the government already working on a resolution on the issue, Mr Baalu said, “Who said there is a window of resolution. After having submitted the letter of withdrawal of support, where is the window of resolution.”
Pressed further, he said, “Let the resolution come. It is a hypothetical question, which I cannot answer. Let us see the draft of the resolution. Each and everything will be decided by our leader.”
The DMK has been pushing ahead with its demand that India should pitch for amendments to a US-sponsored resolution in UN Human Rights Council so that it calls for an independent international probe into “genocide” of Sri Lankan Tamils in the island nation.
Earlier in Chennai, Mr Karunanidhi, while announcing the decision of withdrawing support had left open a window for reconsidering the decision by stating that it was “ready” to review it if Parliament adopts a resolution before March 21 taking the party’s demands on board.
The Geneva-based Human Rights Council is due to vote a resolution against Sri Lanka on March 21.
By the evening, the Congress leadership had a meeting after which sources said the government is drafting a resolution on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue to be brought in Parliament in a bid to placate Mr Karunanidhi.
Of the five DMK ministers, Mr M K Alagiri is of cabinet rank. The DMK has 18 Lok Sabha MPs and six Rajya Sabha MPs.
With the DMK pullout, the strength of the UPA in the Lok Sabha has been reduced to 224 after its withdrawal 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 270.
SP(22) and BSP(21) were among the crucial outside supporters(57). Both the parties said they will support the government and there was no threat to its stability.
“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,” the Finance Minister Mr P Chidambaram told reporters.
Any backtracking will now be difficult for the DMK owing to compulsions in Tamil Nadu politics. The Chief Minister, Ms J Jayalalitha has already been dubbing DMK’s threat as a “drama”.
After chairing an emergency meeting of TESO, a pro-Tamil organisation revived by him last year, a combative Mr Karunanidhi charged the Mamnohan Singh government with not only allowing ‘watering down’ of the US resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC but also not even considering any of DMK’s suggested amendments to that resolution.
“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,” Mr Karunanidhi said reading out from a statement.
Mr Karunanidhi’s daughter Ms Kanimozhi said her party pulled out in protest against government’s position on a UN resolution on war crimes in Sri Lanka because it “had no choice”.
The resolution, the Rajya Sabha MP said, had nothing of what the DMK wanted. “DMK expected the Indian government to support this resolution and take it forward but unfortunately it did not happen. The final resolution has come and nothing of what was expected is there in it. So I think the DMK had no choice but to decide to pull out,” she said in New Delhi.
One of the amendments was to “declare that genocide and war crimes had been committed and inflicted on the Eelam Tamils by the Sri Lankan army and the administrators.”
The second one was “establishment of a credible and independent international commission of investigation in a time-bound manner into the allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, violations of international human rights law, violations of international humanitarian law and crime of genocide against the Tamils.”
Along with the DMK, another UPA ally Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi too quit the coalition with its lone MP and party founder Mr Thol Thirumavalavan announcing its decision. DMK’s announcement comes at a time when the state has been witnessing a series of protests by various parties, including by students, over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue with emotions running high.