The seven-year-old Congress-Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam alliance virtually ended on Saturday with the DMK ministers deciding to withdraw from the Union Cabinet.
"We will extend issue-based support to the United Progressive Alliance government," the DMK said in statement following a high-level meeting of 27 of its top leaders. Party supremo M Karunanidhi was also present at the meeting.
The statement also said the Congress was clear that it did not want to continue the alliance and that is why asked for 63 seats in the upcoming Tamil Nadu assembly elections even after the DMK decided to allot 60 seats. "All these developments clearly indicate that the Congress was hell bent on defying and taunting the DMK and there is no way the alliance can continue in the current situation," the statement said.
The DMK's action of withdrawing ministers does not appear to pose an immediate threat to the Congress-led coalition in case of a trial of strength. The ruling coalition has the backing of 310 MPs, including the outside support being provided by parties like Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Karunanidhi, who had on Friday night accused the Congress of being unreasonable in its demand, charged the ally with trying to push it out of the UPA.
Apparently referring to the Congress's demand of 63 seats of its choice after agreeing to 60, he said the Congress stand does not help for an amicable poll accord.
"We are compelled to suspect that these are all efforts by Congress to push us out of the UPA. Under these circumstances we have to think whether to continue in the government. So we have decided to relieve ourselves from the government," Karunanidhi told the meeting.
He made it clear that while pulling out its six ministers from the Union Cabinet, the party would give issue-based support to the Manmohan Singh government during times of trouble. "The DMK is surprised that the Congress tried to create a lot of new problems in our long-standing alliance," he said.
Recalling his meeting with Congress-in-charge of Tamil Nadu Ghulam Nabi Azad, Karunanidhi said, "After talks with Azad, I agreed to give the Congress 57 seats. He said he will consult the high command and make an announcement immediately. But then he called from Delhi and asked for 60 seats and said 'I won't sign the agreement otherwise'. I agreed for that and asked him to come to Chennai to sign the agreement. Instead, the Congress then asked for 63 seats and they wanted to decide on the constituencies as well."
"Because of this shocking behaviour of the Congress we decided to take up the matter with the high-level committe. Considering the efforts we took and the problems that were created we got the idea that the Congress was looking at this as an excuse to end the alliance. That is why we take this resolution," he added.
With 18 MPs, the DMK is the second largest ally of Congress in the UPA after the Trinamool Congress which has 19 MPs.
The DMK's decision puts the alliance between the two parties under severe strain ahead of the April 13 polls when it faces a tough challenge from the rival All India Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam which has already tied-up with actor Vijayakant's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam and Left parties.
The DMK-Congress alliance swept all the 40 Lok Sabha seats including the lone Puducherry seat in the 2004 elections and won 28 seats in the 2009 general elections. The combine also won the 2006 Assembly elections, though DMK could not get a majority on its own.
Shortly after the announcement of the party stand, DMK parliamentary party leader T R Baalu said the party would "definitely" have discussions with the Congress if it agrees to the terms and conditions set by Karunanidhi.
In Delhi, the Congress declined to respond to the DMK's accusations and merely maintained that negotiations were still on and an agreement on seat-sharing could be reached.
Maintaining that the Congress does not want DMK to continue in the government, Karunanidhi said the party's attitude surprises the DMK because it has been instrumental in creating some problems ahead of the elections.
Looking at the efforts taken for the alliance and the problems being created, the DMK supremo felt that he was compelled to wonder whether the Congress was using these as an effort to make the DMK get out of the alliance instead of trying to arrive at an amicable settlement.
The resolution adopted at the meeting specifically referred to the Congress demand of 60 seats over the 48 it contested in the earlier elections and the DMK's acceptance of it and its subsequent stand that it needs 63 constituencies of its choice.
"The DMK feels that the Congress may be deliberately doing this to show clearly that they were not in favour of us continuing in the government.
"In these circumstances, the DMK considered the situation and decides that it will relieve itself from the government and support it on the basis of issues," the resolution said.
With inputs from PTI