Upset over the tough posture adopted by the Congress in the seat-sharing talks for the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Saturday decided to pull out its Ministers from the Union government and provide only issue-based support to the UPA government.
A resolution to this effect was adopted at a meeting of the high-level committee of the party at Anna Arivalayam, the party headquarters, here. DMK president and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi chaired the meeting, which was attended by senior leaders including M.K. Stalin, T. R. Baalu, Durai Murugan and M.K. Alagiri.
At present, the DMK has two Ministers of Cabinet rank — Mr. Alagiri and Dayanidhi Maran — and four Ministers of State — S.S. Palanimanickam, D. Napoleon, S. Jagathrakshakan and S. Gandhiselvan.
The Union Ministers will submit their resignation on Monday, according to Mr. Stalin.
Explaining the context in which the DMK had taken the decision, the resolution stated that the Congress, which had contested 48 seats in the 2006 Assembly election, wanted 60 seats this time. After the DMK had agreed to this demand, the Congress sought 63 seats; and that too, of its choice. This had showed that “they [the Congress] are neither keen on continuing with this alliance nor do they like to be with us. It is under this situation that the DMK deliberated over its continuance in the Union government and decided not to be part of the Union government.”
That the DMK would pull out its Ministers became apparent during the course of the day as there was no dramatic announcement from the Congress after Mr. Karunanidhi's statement on Friday night. The DMK president had expressed his displeasure over the latest demand of the Congress for 63 seats of its choice and stated that an appropriate decision would be taken on Saturday by the DMK's high-level action committee. Other than a statement from Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee that the seat-sharing issue would be resolved, there was no contact at the highest level between the two parties.
In his statement, the Chief Minister recalled events in the last one month on the alliance talks. He said that considering the efforts taken for the electoral pact and the problems created, the DMK was forced to suspect that the Congress, instead of amicably finalising the agreement, wanted to evict the DMK from the alliance, citing this as a pretext. Also, the stalemate should not eventually lead to the prospects of the alliance being damaged and bitterness created among workers of the two parties.
He explained that despite his advanced age, he went to New Delhi and stayed there for two days and met Congress president Sonia Gandhi. As desired by her, it was decided to hold the DMK-Congress negotiations first. As there was some delay in Congress nominees holding talks with the DMK, the party had decided to conduct talks with other parties including the Pattali Makkal Katchi. When the talks with the Congress began on February 20, there was no final decision on the allocation of seats to constituents of the alliance.
The DMK, which had been adhering to the principles of unity and integrity of the country and secularism, had been functioning on this basis while aligning with any party. For the last seven years, it had been working with the Congress and other allies, without wavering from this position. The DMK was surprised to find that the Congress was the cause for “creating new problems,” Mr. Karunanidhi added.