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DMK pulls out from Vajpayee government
December 20, 2003 11:41 IST
Last Updated: December 20, 2003 14:10 IST
Capping two years of strained ties with Bharatiya Janata Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Saturday pulled out its two ministers from the Vajpayee government and withdrew from the National Democratic Alliance but said it would give issue based support to the central coalition.
"We are no longer a constituent of the NDA," DMK chief M Karunanidhi announced after a meeting of the party's high power committee in Chennai in the morning.
He said the DMK, which has 11 members in the Lok Sabha, would offer issue-based support to the Vajpayee government.
Union Environment Minister T R Baalu said he and Minister of State for Health A Raja would submit their resignations either this evening or tomorrow.
Karunanidhi said there was no question of reconsidering the decision.
Reacting to the decision, the BJP said the DMK was a responsible constituent of the NDA and it would try to sort out the problems.
"DMK is an NDA partner. This is truth of the day. Even DMK has taken a decision regarding this," BJP general secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
He said the DMK decision to withdraw ministers but give outside support to the government 'is not a contradiction since the party had taken a similar stand even earlier'.
Asserting that there is no threat to the NDA government, Naqvi said the decision would in no way affect the relationship between the BJP and the DMK.
Asked by reporters whether DMK support hereafter would be like the one being extended by the Telugu Desam Party, Karunanidhi said, "I leave it to your inference."
Charging the Vajpayee government with deviating from the NDA agenda of national governance, he cited the 'fluctuating' stand of the BJP on Ayodhya issue and Vajpayee's recent 'change of statements' on the rights of government employees to go on strike.
"However, I still hold Vajpayee in high esteem and we have no difference of opinion with him," he said.
Though the decision was apparently provoked by BJP chief M Venkaiah Naidu's remarks that DMK's agitation on Monday on the POTA issue was against the coalition tradition, relations between the two parties had strained ever since Karunanidhi's arrest by the AIADMK government in the summer of 2001 and subsequent developments.
The DMK was sore with the BJP complaining that the Centre had not done enough to come to its rescue when Karunanidhi and two central ministers Baalu and late Murasoli Maran were arrested by the AIADMK government.
The AIADMK had also supported POTA and taken a number of steps like enactment of a law banning conversion and free noon meal in all temples in the state -- measures appreciated by the Sangh Parivar.
While the AIADMK was wooing the BJP, DMK took cautious steps towards getting close to the Congress.
The DMK also nurtured the grouse that the Centre has not done anything to curb the alleged misuse of POTA by Jayalalithaa government, which arrested MDMK Member of Parliament Vaiko and eight of his partymen under the act. They are in jail for more than 17 months.
A resolution adopted at the meeting said though Naidu's statement terming as 'unhealthy politics' DMK's call for an agitation by staying in the ministry could be 'defeated' by citing precedents, the party did not want to cause any 'hindrance' to the 'healthy politics' of the BJP and has decided to withdraw its ministers.
Karunanidhi said the party was of the view that POTA should be repealed and thrown into the dustbin 'lock, stock and barrel'.
DMK's support to the POTA Amendment Bill in Parliament was only to get the release of those detained under the act in the state, he said.
The DMK chief said the party would oppose any decision of the NDA government, which was against its (DMK's) basics and fundamental principles.
He denied that Vajpayee had contacted him during the past two days to prevail upon the DMK from taking any extreme decision.
Asked whether the party had consulted PMK and MDMK, the other constituents of NDA in Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi said, "It is our decision. We have not consulted them."
More reports from Tamil Nadu
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