Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should dismiss Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers, M. K. Alagiri, following the registration of a case against him by the Madurai rural police in connection with an assault case, the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference here, BJP secretary P. Muralidhar Rao, who is in-charge of party affairs in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, said that by keeping a person named in an FIR in the Union Cabinet, the Prime Minister was providing immunity for him. Dr. Singh was answerable for the actions of Mr. Alagiri.

Mr. Rao claimed that Tamil Nadu was facing a “very serious problem,” as democracy as a system of governance or a framework to change government was endangered.

He alleged that the pact between the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Congress was not limited to seat sharing as both the parties had understood the stakes involved in the election.

They had realised, by obtaining feedback from people, that if transparent, free and fair elections are held, their days in power will be over. Hence they were waging a losing battle against democracy and their main adversary was the Election Commission.

The “intimidation” and “attack” on the Election Commission and its representatives were aimed at creating a “non-level playing field” for other contestants. The Prime Minister's silence on the issue involving Mr. Alagiri, he said, was “in a way” encouragement to attack the independence of the Election Commission.

The Keelavalavu incident of Friday (in which a videographer attached to a flying squad was roughed up by DMK workers) betrayed the nature of the DMK and the Union Government, the BJP leader said.

He said that people still had faith in elections because of the Election Commission. Mr. Rao wanted the Chief Election Commissioner to initiate action against both the Congress and the DMK.