Sunday, March 6, 2011

After breaking alliance, DMK says ball in Congress court

Chennai: Even as the DMK has decided to pull out from the United Progressive Alliance government citing the Congress' increasing demands for seats for the April 13 Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections, it said it was open to continuing discussions with Congress for a poll tie-up.

Speaking to a news agency, DMK spokesman TKS Elangovan said: "We have called off the alliance with Congress as it demanded 63 seats of its choice after agreeing for 60 seats earlier. If the Congress comes back to us with an alternate plan, then we are open an alliance." 
According to him the negotiations have to be fair but Congress did not play it fair till now. 

Expressing similar views, senior DMK leader and MP TR Baalu told reporters that if the Congress accepts 60 seats, then his party would reconsider its decision. 

The DMK move followed the Congress' insistence on contesting 63 of Tamil Nadu's 234 Assembly seats while DMK was willing to concede only 60. 

Congress’ guarded response 

The DMK's decision to pull out of the UPA government appears to have come as a bolt from the blue for the Congress, which still feels all is not lost and negotiations could continue. 

Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi gave a guarded reaction on the development, keeping alive the hopes of a settlement on seat sharing even at this stage. 

"There is no need to comment on it now. This (has happened) in the middle of negotiations and unnecessary press comments will muddy the waters," was the refrain of Singhvi. 

Indicating that the party has been caught off-guard on the issue, a senior party functionary, who did not wish to be identified, said, "We are not going to react until the DMK officially communicates to us the decision." 

DMK is the first ally of the Congress led UPA to pull out of the ruling coalition at the Centre. 

With 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha, it is the third largest constituent of the UPA after Congress and the Trinamool Congress. 

It is advantage for AIADMK: Leaders

Chennai: The opposition camp in Tamil Nadu is expectedly happy with the dramatic decision by the ruling DMK to exit the UPA government and also announcing the break up with the Congress party in the April 13 Assembly Elections.

"The AIADMK-led alliance will win the elections hands down now," DMDK presidium chairman Panruti S Ramachandran said.

The party, led by actor turned politician Vijayakant, had struck a seat-sharing deal with the AIADMK on Friday night. 
According to Ramachandran, DMK leader and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi must have taken the decision mainly to protect his family members involved in the 2G Spectrum scam. 

"My surmise is that Karunanidhi would have asked the Congress party to scuttle the investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the 2G spectrum scam. Its trail has led to Kalaignar TV, where his family members have majority stake. Congress would have expressed its helplessness as the case is monitored by the Supreme Court," Ramachandran said. 

Even DMK's recent ally PMK may not be sympathetic if Karunanidhi's family members were found connected to the 2G Spectrum scam, he said. 

"For the Congress it is a damage control measure. Earlier it lost the government due to the Bofors gun scam and it does not want a repeat due to the 2G Spectrum scam," Ramachandran added. 

According to him, Congress is like an orphan now in Tamil Nadu with no other major political party to align with. 

A leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) earlier said: "They have lost the battle even before it began." 

Political commentator Cho Ramaswamy said: "Now Karunanidhi may have a talking point. He can say that the central government is investigating against his family as he withdrew from the alliance." 

According to Ramchandran, the Congress seems to be in favour of severing its ties with the DMK in Tamil Nadu to protect its larger interest of ruling at the centre so that Rahul Gandhi, Congress general secretary and party leader Sonia Gandhi's son, gets an easy access to the prime minister post during the next Lok Sabha poll. 

Ramaswamy said one has to watch if Congress would move towards AIADMK fold. 

According to a leader of the PMK, a DMK ally, the absence of the Congress from the alliance would not be a major handicap. 

"The DMK-PMK-VCK combine is a strong force and can win the elections," he said. 

DMK cadre welcomes leadership decision to pull out of UPA

Chennai: DMK cadre on Saturday welcomed the party leadership's decision to pull out of UPA government and shouted slogans supporting the move.

Even as the resolution saying DMK was pulling out of the cabinet was being distributed to members of the media, party workers, who had gathered in front of the meeting venue, shouted slogans welcoming the move.

Some volunteers were seen shouting slogans against the Congress, which according to DMK president M Karunanidhi, had made an "unjustified" demand of 63 seats after settling for 60 for contesting the Tamil Nadu assembly polls.
The cheering crowd welcomed Karunanidhi when he arrived at the party office to preside over the high-level committee meeting. Even as the meeting was on, workers raised slogans saying DMK should not continue their alliance with Congress.

When the news broke that DMK was not willing to concede the Congress demand, DMK supporters were all in smile and many of them said "they were relieved" at the outcome.
The parties had first come together for the 2004 Lok Sabha polls and netted all 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. 

The relationship continued for 2006 Assembly polls also, but Congress' hopes for a share in power remained elusive despite its crucial support for DMK government's survival (the DMK could not get a majority on its own), as well as the 2009 Parliamentary elections. 

Congress' demand and insistence for power-sharing besides remaining adamant on 63 seats is said to have caused discomfort in the DMK ranks. 

DMK is the first ally of Congress-led UPA to pull out of the ruling coalition at the Centre. With 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha, it is the third largest constituent of UPA after Congress and Trinamool Congress. 

EC notice to Alagiri for 'violating' model code

New Delhi: The Election Commission on Saturday issued a show cause notice to Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers M K Alagiri for allegedly violating model code of conduct ahead of the April 13 assesmbly polls in Tamil Nadu.

In its notice, the EC said Alagiri had made an official visit to Chennai but indulged in political activities in his home district Madurai.
It pointed out that the Minister left for Chennai on March two on an official visit to review the functioning of the CIEPT (Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology) and also visited Madurai on March four. 

"By combining your visit to Chennai, which is said to be official, with your visit to Madurai and indulging in political activities there, you have violated the provisions of model code of conduct," the EC said.

"The Election Commission hereby gives a notice to you to show cause why action should not be taken against you for the above violations of the model code of conduct," it said. 

Seeking his reply by March 7, the EC said failure to respond to the notice would be assumed that he had nothing to say in the matter and action would be initiated against him without any further notice. 

The EC said that in the letter of Secretary of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary "it is nowhere certified that your visit to Chennai was purely official business which could not be avoided in public interest". 

Pointing out that as per its instructions, the Secretary should have given prior intimation to the Chief Secretary of his visit, it said while the minister had left for Chennai on March 2, the Secretary wrote to the state government on March 3. 

UPA in crisis as DMK quits govt, dumps Congress

Chennai/New Delhi: Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK on Saturday ended its seven-year alliance with the Congress and pulled out of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government after running into roadblocks over seat sharing in assembly elections only a month away.

The dramatic decision, announced after a meeting of DMK leaders including Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, robbed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government of majority support in the Lok Sabha where the Congress-led UPA coalition will now have only 256 MPs -- less than the half-way 272.

But with the DMK saying it would still give "issue-based support", a stand similar to that of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Congress sources said there was no immediate danger to the UPA government.

The DMK move, however, took the Congress by surprise. One of its leaders, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, called the decision "sudden".

The DMK move followed the Congress insistence on contesting from 63 of Tamil Nadu's 234 assembly seats while a peeved DMK was willing to concede only 60.