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HindustanTimes Wed,22 Oct 2014

DMK withdrawing support: history could turn full circle

PTI  New Delhi, March 19, 2013
First Published: 21:54 IST(19/3/2013) | Last Updated: 21:55 IST(19/3/2013)

With DMK's withdrawal of support to the UPA on Tuesday, history could turn full circle 15 years after Congress pulled down the United Front coalition demanding withdrawal of DMK ministers from the government.

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In November 1997, the coalition government of then Prime Minister IK Gujral came tumbling down after seven months in office in the wake of the report of the Jain Commission that went into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Gujral's government collapsed and he resigned when Congress finally carried out a threat to withdraw its support because the Jain Commission report held the DMK, a key coalition partner, of coddling a Sri Lankan guerrilla group suspected of killing Gandhi in a suicide bombing.

The government fell after leaders of the 13-party United Front coalition rejected Congress' demand to oust the accused partner, the DMK, and its three representatives in Gujral's cabinet.

The interim report of the Commission headed by Justice MC Jain had concluded that the DMK was giving "tacit support" to the LTTE whose militants had assassinated Gandhi.

"The conclusion is irresistible that there was tacit support to the LTTE by M Karunanidhi and his government and law enforcement agencies," it had concluded.

That time Parliament had not conducted business for two weeks because angry Congress members had disrupted every session, calling for the government's ouster of the DMK.

"Remove DMK; save the country," they had chanted.

Gujral's departure marked the second time in 1997 when the then Congress chief Sitaram Kesri had engineered the ouster of a prime minister who led a United Front government.

The UF, a coalition of regional, centrist and communist parties came together in June 1996 to keep BJP out of power. In April that year, Gujral had replaced HD Deve Gowda, whom Kesri had said had taken Congress support for granted.

After the pulling down of the UF government, Congress and DMK had become political adversaries for some six-seven years with the Dravidian party joining the NDA. Ahead of the May 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi got the DMK on board the UPA by calling up Karunanidhi to oust the BJP-led coalition from power.

DMK and Congress have been sharing power at the Centre since May 2004 and the ruling party at the Centre was also part of the alliance in Tamil Nadu when Karunandhi was the chief minister.

The two parties also contested the last Assembly elections together but to disastrous consequences as the DMK's image got tainted over the 2G scam which had seen party leader and former Communication Minister A Raja being sent to Tihar jail so also Karunanidhi's daughter, Kanimozhi.

Karunanidhi's action of withdrawing support of his 18-member strong group in the Lok Sabha today came as a bolt from the blue for the Congress but its crisis managers went into overdrive to ensure that there was no threat to the coalition and the government is stable.

DMK, the second biggest constituent in UPA, on Tuesday quit the ruling alliance and pulled out its five Union ministers in protest against government not taking up its concerns in the proposed UN resolution against Sri Lanka on alleged human rights violations of Tamils there.


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