A tough stand taken by the Supreme Court forced the Congress High Command to finally spring to the defence of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who had felt let down by that party’s stand on the Sethusamudram issue.
Karunanidhi was forced to break his planned fast halfway after the court observed that it would ask the Centre to impose President's rule in the state if there was no compliance of its order, which would be a constitutional breakdown.
Union Information Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi’s stout defence, underlining the DMK’s importance for the UPA and even comparing the DMK Chief to Mahatma Gandhi appears to be the only positive spin off from the present
controversy. Earlier Subramaniam Swamy got the Supreme Court stay against damaging the Ram Setu.
If the stay represented a setback to the project, the Centre’s affidavit questioning the existence of Ram and subsequently backtracking on it with more than an apology saw Karunanidhi, the self-proclaimed rationalist, stretching
He first asked in which engineering Ram had graduated to build a bridge, then called him a drunkard and finally declared Ram was as big a lie as the Himalayas and Ganga were true.
Protesting against Ram Vilas Vedanti’s ‘fatwa’, his partymen unleashed violence against the BJP in the state.
To move ahead of his rivals, Karunanidhi called for a bandh only to be checkmated by the AIADMK, which dragged him to the High Court and then the Supreme Court. Karunanidhi’s response was to go on a hunger strike for a day, but the Supreme Court spoilt even that by hinting at constitutional breakdown. It also warned of President’s Rule in the state. When the AIADMK moves its contempt petition later this week the DMK and its government could be in for more judicial trouble.
“Karunanidhi should have waited for the Centre to present its case to the Supreme Court after three months. Instead he wanted to prove his Tamilian and rationalist credentials in a hurry,” observed Thuglak Editor Cho Ramaswamy.
The bandh move also backfired at Karunanidhi. “On the one hand you want to sell Tamil Nadu as an investment destination, while on the other you impose something so retrograde as a bandh,” observed a leading industrialist.
The Setu controversy might have let Karunanidhi demonstrate the solidity of his DPA front in Tamil Nadu, but only in a defensive posture while others Swamy, Jayalalithaa and even the BJP have been setting the agenda. Jayalalithaa, especially, has turned one back on Karunanidhi after he recaptured power last year.