If in 2012 it was the Trinamool Congress, in 2013 it is the DMK which has managed to push the UPA into a corner. The DMK, which has 18 seats in the Lok Sabha, pulled out of the Congress-led UPA coalition on Tuesday in protest against the Centre’s ambivalent position on a United Nations resolution on war crimes against Tamils during Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009. Instead of just supporting the resolution, which New Delhi was planning to do, the DMK wants India to introduce stronger language into the draft (words like “genocide”) and push for an international panel to investigate into the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government. On Monday, the DMK chief, in what looked like a climb-down, said that he could reconsider his pullout threat, if the Indian Parliament passed a resolution on his two demands. Agreeing to such demands would be difficult for New Delhi because of two reasons: first, it cannot support two different resolutions on the same issue, one at home and another abroad, and second, to pass a resolution, the government would need support from all parties and the main Opposition party, the BJP, does not support any country-specific motion and says that terms like genocide must be avoided.
The DMK has not left the UPA with much room for any kind of political maneuvering: the resolution will be placed in the UN later this week and Parliament will go into recess for a month on March 22 and on Friday, the DMK will meet President Pranab Mukherjee to withdraw its support formally. So the Congress has no room to dilly-dally. With its pullout, the Congress becomes heavily dependent on two outside supporters: the Samajwadi Party and the BSP and there is no doubt that the two will try to extract concessions from the Centre on their pet demands: for the SP, it is the implementation of the Sachar Committee report which recommended reservation for Muslims and for the BSP, it is the bill on job promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs. And in any case, the UPA would need a strong ally within the coalition and this over dependence on outside support is not good news. The BJP has, for its part, already started tightening the screws by saying that it is ready for an election.
It is not very difficult to figure out why the DMK took this decision: the party is keen to revive its political fortune and this is the only way it can go. Its opponent, the AIADMK, has also made a similar demand and whoever manages to prevail on the Centre first will score. Moreover, the DMK wants to increase its tally in the next general elections and the only way out is to compete in maximum number of seats and that is not be possible if it remains with the Congress. In such a scenario, the UN resolution has come to it on a platter. The Congress should not give in to this blackmail and allow political interference in the conduct of foreign relations. At the same time, it should remind the Lankan government about its promise to deliver a political and rehabilitation package for its Tamil community.