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DMK quits UPA over Lanka issue; govt says it's stable

Last updated on: March 19, 2013 13:48 IST

DMK quits UPA over Lanka issue; govt says it's stable

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The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Tuesday withdrew its support to the United Progress Alliance and pulled out its five central ministers over the issue of alleged human rights violations of Tamils in Sri Lanka but the Congress-led government said there was no threat to its stability.

DMK supremo M Karunanidhi while announcing the party's decision ending its nine-year long association with the UPA, however, kept a window open of returning to the alliance, saying it was ready to reconsider it if Parliament adopts a resolution before March 21 incorporating the two amendments he had suggested to be moved on the US-backed resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who was part of the team of three central ministers which met Karunanidhi to try to placate him on his demands on Monday, asserted there is no crisis and that Government enjoyed majority and it was "absolutely stable".

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Image: A man carries a poster of DMK chief M Karunanidhi

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The DMK has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha and the strength of the ruling alliance has reduced to 224 after its pull out but UPA enjoyed the support of 281 MPs that included those of outside supporting parties. The Samajwadi Party, 22, and Bahujan Samaj Party, 21, were among the outside supporters, 57, in the House where the magic number for a majority is 272.

After chairing an emergency meeting of the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation, a pro-Tamil organisation revived by him last year, a combative Karunanidhi charged the Mamnohan Singh government with not only allowing 'watering down' of the US resolution against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council but also not even considering any of DMK's suggested amendments to that resolution.

"When a situation has been created that will not benefit Ealam Tamils, it will be a big harm to the Tamil race for the DMK to continue in the government. (Therefore) it has been decided that the DMK will withdraw from the cabinet and the coalition," he said in Chennai in a statement read out by him.

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Image: Karunanidhi with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in happier times
Photographs: Babu/Reuters
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The government is holding consultations on the DMK demand for Parliament resolution, Chidambaram said. "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," Chidambaram told reporters in Delhi.

He also took note of the remark by the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister that the DMK will review its decision.

Asked whether he would reconsider his decision of quitting the alliance if his demand for a resolution in Parliament was conceded by the Centre, Karunanidhi said, "We are ready to change our opinion." The DMK has one cabinet minister and four junior ministers.

"We have time today till this evening, so also tomorrow and even ahead of March 21. Before that if the resolution is introduced in Parliament as desired by us and taken up for discussion, we are ready to change our opinion (of withdrawal of support)," Karunanidhi said.

A United States-sponsored resolution on alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka is due to come up at UNHRC in Geneva on March 21.

Asked whether his party would extend outside support to the Centre, he emphatically said, "Ethuvum kidayathu (nothing). 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," he added.

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Image: A pro-Tamil demonstrator stands outside the High Commission of India in London
Photographs: Stephen Hird/Reuters
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On Monday, the Congress had rushed three of its senior Ministers A K Antony, P Chidambaram and Ghulam Nabi Azad to mollify Karunanidhi.

At the end of near three-hour consultations, the two sides failed to break any ice with Karunanidhi making a fresh demand for Parliament to adopt a resolution on the DMK suggested amendments to the UNHRC resolution.

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 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."


 


Image: Finance Minister P Chidambaram
Photographs: Stephen Hird/Reuters
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