“The Congress is extremely unpopular in Tamil Nadu”

While it was clear that its increasing discomfiture in the company of the Congress was the main reason for the DMK’s decision to leave the alliance, party sources disclosed on Wednesday that the impetus for the final strike on Tuesday morning came from its influential treasurer M.K. Stalin.

Conversations with senior DMK leaders revealed two facets of the decision: that the party was waiting for an opportunity to leave the United Progressive Alliance and that it wanted to pre-empt any possible compromise move by the Congress after three Union Ministers met party president M. Karunanidhi on Monday.

“Mr. Stalin prevailed on his father to take a final decision on the night of March 18. By announcing withdrawal of support in the forenoon of Tuesday, Mr. Karunanidhi also pre-empted any attempt by the Congress leadership to come up with a compromise formula to convince him into staying with the UPA,” party sources said.

“Mr. Stalin’s insistence was the final straw. He convinced our leader that reconsidering our position will be political suicide and that we will lose our credibility among the people,” said a senior leader.

Party sources said that after the three Union Ministers — P. Chidambaram, A.K. Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad — held parleys with Mr. Karunanidhi and left for Delhi, Mr. Stalin stayed back with his father and persuaded him to snap ties without any delay.

“At one point, he even threatened to quit his position in the party since as a future leader he has to shoulder more responsibility than anyone else,” said leaders who were close to Mr. Stalin.

DMK’s Parliamentary party leader T.R. Baalu, former minister A. Raja, senior DMK leaders, including E.V. Velu, K. Ponmudi and Duraimurgan, were other leaders who firmly supported the move.

Already disenchanted with the Congress, the DMK timed its exit to coincide with the U.N. Human Rights Council vote on Sri Lanka to impart seriousness to its decision.

In the beginning, Mr. Karunanidhi only wanted the Indian government to take steps to strengthen the U.S.-sponsored draft resolution by incorporating two amendments. But when Congress emissaries came to meet him, he upped the ante by asking for a resolution in Parliament, said a leader.

While Congress leaders were silent about the fresh demand for a parliamentary resolution, Mr. Karunanidhi disclosed it immediately to the media. And by remarking that the tension between the Congress and DMK would ease only if his demands were met, he gave ample hints that he was unlikely to settle for anything less.

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