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TN allies thorn in the side for UPA

UPA government’s T Nadu allies - the DMK and the PMK- have managed to embarrass the central government on the same day, reports G C Shekhar.

india Updated: May 09, 2008 01:57 IST
G C Shekhar

So far the UPA government’s Tamil Nadu allies — the DMK and the PMK — had been taking turns at embarrassing the central government. But on Thursday they managed the rare feat of doing so together on the same day. In both cases, it was the objections of the Supreme Court which put paid to two controversial objectives they had been pursuing, utterly indifferent to the hostile public reaction.

The first embarassment came when the court ruled that the removal of Dr P Venugopal from his position as director of AIIMS had been illegal. The PMK's most prominent Delhi representative, union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss, was the driving force behind the sacking, the outcome of a highly personalised feud between the two. The second was when the court stymied the Sethusamudram shipping project. The DMK had been the most vociferous champion of the project in its existing form.

Only a week earlier the Centre had been greatly discomfited by the revelations about Union Minister T R Baalu misusing his office to curry favours for a family-run factory in Tamil Nadu. While Baalu displayed a brazen “so what?” attitude to the issue, it was the union petroleum minister who had to bear the brunt of the opposition's wrath in Parliament, firefighting on Baalu's behalf as best as he could.

Ever since the Ram Setu controversy broke too, the DMK had gone into bullying mode: first by Karunanidhi’s needlessly provocative remarks about Lord Ram, and then by the party's efforts to arm twist the Centre, through bandhs and resolutions, into ramming through the project in spite of misgivings within the Congress itself about the controversy's adverse electoral impact in North India.

The court’s latest orders will virtually put the canal project in the cold storage since an archeological survey could take nothing less than two years. The DMK is furious with the fresh setback and this could well require another round of tightrope walking for the UPA government to retain its numbers in Parliament and keep its government going.

Ramadoss’s obsessive territorial battle with Venugopal had forced the Centre to amend the AIIMS Act to force the latter out of office. With the court now finding that the amendment was motivated, Anbumani must be looking for a place to hide. “Both episodes only

prove the weakness of the UPA government and the Prime Minister whose only role seems to be to succumb to the pressures of his overbearing allies,” observed Thuglak Editor Cho Ramaswamy.