DMK dumps UPA over Lankan Tamils issue

The DMK supremo said that despite numerous requests by his party to the Centre over the human rights violations against Sri Lankan Tamils, the central government has been indecisive and has turned a blind eye to the DMK view.

CHENNAI: Dravida Munnetra Kazagham chief M Karunanidhi today announced the withdrawal of support of his party to the UPA II government, severing all ties with the alliance. Finance Minister P. Chidambaram though said the UPA government is stable and enjoys majority support in parliament despite the DMK's exit.

Addressing a press conference in Chennai, the DMK supremo said that despite numerous requests by his party to the Centre over the human rights violations against Sri Lankan Tamils, the central government has been indecisive and has turned a blind eye to the DMK view.

Karunanidhi said the UPA government had not only refused to consider the DMK's views on the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC but had quietly watered down the resolution.

He also ruled out extending outside legislative support to the UPA.

The DMK though is yet to inform President Pranab Mukherjee of the decision to pull out of the UPA.

The DMK chief had asked for two amendments to the US-sponsored resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting — global probe into the genocide of Tamils and action against the Lankan authorities for war crimes.

“So, there is no point in continuing with the alliance. We may not even give outside support to the UPA. We are pulling out of the UPA in totality,” Karunanidhi said.

'Worked for welfare of Tamils'

He said the DMK has always worked for the welfare of the Tamils and has been demanding tough stance against the Sri Lankan government’s alleged atrocities against Lankan Tamils.

Asked if the decision to exit the government was a belated one since it didn't do anything when the war against the Tamil Tigers was at its peak, Karunanidhi said: "We were not silent at that time."

He added that both the Indian government and the UN had done injustice to the Tamils.

On extending issue-based support to the central government, he said it was normal for all parties to extend support based on issues.

Earlier, reading out a statement, Karunanidhi said that Tamil aspirations in Sri Lanka remained despite the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009 and the annihilation of its leadership.

He accused the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka of trying to destroy the Tamil cultural heritage.

Karunanidhi said there was no doubt that President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government had committed "war crimes" and "genocide" of Tamils. He decried India's silence on the issue as undemocratic.

The US has introduced a resolution pulling up Sri Lanka over rights abuses and more at the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

But the DMK and the AIADMK want the Indian government to introduce amendments in the resolution accusing Sri Lanka of committing "genocide" on Tamils during the war against the Tamil Tigers.

The DMK, however, also said that it is ready to reconsider its decision if Parliament adopts a resolution, declaring that there was genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, before March 21, Karunanidhi said.

Meanwhile, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said that she had “nothing to say now on DMK pullout from the UPA.” Earlier in the day, Sonia had said, "We strongly stand for human rights of the people of Sri Lanka."

DMK seeks resolution

The DMK said on Tuesday it would reconsider its decision to quit the UPA if the government passed a resolution against Sri Lanka in parliament.

"There is a window for them. We will reconsider our stand if the government passes a resolution in parliament against the atrocities on Sri Lankan Tamils," DMK MP Vasanthi Stanley told reporters.

"Look at Pakistan. They had the guts to pass a resolution against the hanging of Afzal Guru. Why cannot the Indian parliament pass a resolution on this?" the Rajya Sabha MP said.

"We had earlier expected the government would support the US resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN. Now even that stands diluted," she added.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla told reporters that they had initiated the process of "consultation" for formulating a resolution as demanded by the DMK.

"We are consulting other parties... If it has to be passed, is has to be passed only after consulting all parties," Shukla said.

Placating Karunanidhi

Chidambaram said the "two suggestions" made by the DMK were "considered at great length" at a Congress core group meeting.

He said consultations with all political parties on whether a resolution should be adopted by the parliament or not had begun.

The Bharatiya Janata Party accused the government of working against national interests and said that it was ready for elections. "This government is not working in the interest of the country. We are always ready for elections," party spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

The DMK has 19 Members of Parliament, of whom 5 are ministers. Karunanidhi said that his ministers will quit the government either today or tomorrow.

Speaking later, Chidambaram tried to placate Karunanidhi by saying the Congress had noted his views and that he was a senior leader who "deserves all respect".

Earlier reports had suggested that DMK ministers may quit the UPA over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. The party had put constant pressure on the central government over the demand to punish war crimes against Lankan Tamils. It had threatened to pull out its ministers from the Union Cabinet if its demand to bring in amendments to the US-backed resolution at UNHRC in Geneva was not conceded.

With the DMK’s pull-out, UPA’s strength has been reduced from 295 to a very shaky 277. This includes outside support from the Mulayam-led Samajwadi Party and the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party.

Probe 'atrocities': Sonia

Sonia denounced the "unspeakable atrocities" committed on Tamils in Sri Lanka and sought an independent and credible probe into rights abuses there.

"The plight of Sri Lankan Tamils is very close to our hearts," she told Congress MPs at a meeting in parliament house at New Delhi.

"We are anguished by the reports of unspeakable atrocities on innocent civilians and children, especially during the last days of the conflict in 2009."

"That is why we demand an independent and credible inquiry into the violation of human rights in Sri Lanka," she added.

"Our support for their (Tamil) equal rights and equal protection ... has been unwavering since the days of Indiraji and Rajivji."

Crucial meeting

On Monday, a crucial meeting between Karunanidhi and three union ministers - Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Chidambaram and Azad - on the stand to be taken by India over the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka ended with no major decision being taken.

He told reporters after the meeting that he had told the three ministers that "the attack on Lankan Tamils by Sri Lanka and those in the Lankan administration should be declared as war crime and genocide". He said there should be a probe into the war crimes in Sri Lanka by a credible independent international body. Karunanidhi said a resolution containing the above should be passed in parliament.

Karunanidhi said India should strongly urge the establishment of a credible and independent international commission of investigation into the allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, violations of international human rights law, violations of international humanitarian law and genocide against the Tamil people.

Initial threat

Karunanidhi on Sunday had threatened that the DMK would withdraw support to the UPA government if it did not take steps to bring amendments to the resolution against Sri Lanka in the UNHRC.

Karunanidhi had said on Sunday: "If our requests are not heeded, our relationship with this alliance will not continue."

Sri Lanka is under attack over the death of a large number of Tamil civilians during the final stages of the war that crushed the LTTE in 2009. (With inputs from Agencies)