M A I N   N E W S

DMK ups the ante against Congress
Karunanidhi moves to next phase of seat-sharing process
N Ravikumar & Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

*SP has 20 MPs and is a part of Third Front

Chennai/New Delhi, March 6
A day after the DMK decided to pull out its ministers from the UPA government, the Congress maintained a studied silence with neither side moving ahead to end the stand-off over the collapse of their seat-sharing talks for next month’s Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu.

No senior Congress leader was willing to comment on the stalemate though party insiders did indicate that they were not in any rush to approach the DMK leadership, which has decided to give issue-based support to the UPA government.

Congress sources hinted at the possibility that Finance Minister and party’s troubleshooter Pranab Mukherjee could get in touch with the DMK leadership on his return from Madhya Pradesh where he had gone to attend veteran leader Arjun Singh’s funeral. But, there were no signs of any such move till late tonight.

On the other hand, there were indications that the Congress has not closed the option on severing its ties with the DMK and going it alone in the forthcoming Assembly polls.

In sharp contrast to the earlier occasions when the DMK had threatened the Congress during government formation both in 2004 and 2009, neither Congress president Sonia Gandhi nor Prime Minister Manmohan Singh rushed to mollify DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi. The Congress is unhappy that the DMK announced its decision to pull out its ministers from the UPA government even as their seat-sharing talks were on.

“Nobody from the Congress has got in touch with us. Our ministers are going to Delhi on Monday to submit their resignations to the Prime Minister,” DMK leader TR Baalu announced today.

Even as the suspense continued today, there will be greater clarity on the status of the seven-year-old alliance between the Congress and DMK tomorrow when the six ministers of the Dravidian party submit their resignations to the Prime Minister.

MK Alagiri, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, said he was preparing to leave for New Delhi tomorrow to resign from his post. Besides Alagiri, the other DMK minister in the Union Cabinet is Dayanidhi Maran, while SS Palanimanickam, S Jagatratchagan, R Gandhiselvan and actor Napoleon are Ministers of State.

The PM’s response will throw light on whether the Congress is serious on continuing with its partnership with the DMK or is merely indulging in brinkmanship. Sources in the Congress also said that the differences with the DMK were not just over the number of seats but also that most of the constituencies being offered were not winnable.

The Congress believes it can afford to play hardball as there is no imminent danger to the UPA government since the DMK has said it will instead extend issue-based support to the ruling dispensation.

In addition, there are a number of other regional parties which have indicated their willingness to prop up the government.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief M Karunanidhi today moved to the next phase of seat-sharing exercise with the smaller parties without waiting for the Congress leadership to approach it for reviving the strained relationship. The move clearly indicates that the DMK was not thinking of reviving the strained ties unless the Congress came to its knees on the issues of conflict.






SP may come to UPA’s rescue, hints Mulayam
Shahira Naim/TNS

Lucknow, March 6
While remaining non-committal about his party joining the UPA-II government, Samajwadi Party national president Mulayam Singh Yadav today hinted at his party coming to its rescue by categorically declaring that “the UPA has no crisis of numbers”.

Making light of the proposed resignation of DMK ministers from the UPA-II government, Yadav asserted, “This is just an announcement of resignation by the ministers. They have not withdrawn support. I think the issues between the Congress and the DMK would be resolved soon.”

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters on the eve of the Samajwadi Party’s (SP) three-day statewide agitation against the BSP government, Yadav made it clear that 22 SP MPs were already supporting the UPA government from outside and, therefore, there was no question of any threat to it.

Evading a direct reply to the question of his party joining the Union government, Mulayam quipped, “At the moment, it is a hypothetical question. I am meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the next few days to discuss several issues, including the threat to the international border which I had raised in the Lok Sabha.”





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