Left stops supporting Karunanidhi government, Congress happy

August 9th, 2008 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By T.S.V. Hari
Chennai, Aug 9 (IANS) The two major Left parties, CPI-M and CPI, announced Saturday that they will no longer support the minority DMK government in Tamil Nadu - a development that has left the Congress, a major supporter of the ruling party, jubilant. The decision by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) is in keeping with their withdrawal of support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre. The DMK is a key member of the Congress-led UPA.

The withdrawal of support by the 15 Left party legislators is unlikely to threaten the DMK government of M. Karunanidhi, but may make him more receptive when Congress leaders approach him for favours.

The Congress is now the major supporter of the ruling DMK.

In the Tamil Nadu assembly, DMK has 95 legislators, Congress 35, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi 2 and there is one independent supporting the treasury benches.

In the opposition are the AIADMK with 60 legislators, PMK with 18, MDMK 6 and DMDK 1. The nine CPI-M legislators and the six from the CPI are now going to join them.

The withdrawal of support by the Left had been on the cards since Karunanidhi ignored pleas by CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat and CPI leader D. Raja to join them and oppose the Congress over the India-US civil nuclear deal.

Ironically, the Left move will benefit a section in the Tamil Nadu unit of the Congress.

They have been piqued by Karunanidhi’s refusal to share power and his oft-dropped hints to revive the Tamil Maanila Congress as a foil to the Congress party in the state.

Voicing the pique, the leader of the Congress in Tamil Nadu K.V. Thangkabalu says: “We have been forced to support either of the Dravidian parties since 1977 and during the eight electoral experiences that followed.

“This is despite having aided the AIADMK victories with sympathy waves in 1985 and 1991 after the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi respectively.”

“What do we gain from a government when we cannot even have the power to get a peon appointed in government service?” another Congressman said, quoting the father of central Health Minister Anbumoni Ramadoss. The elder Ramadoss pulled his own PMK out of the Karunanidhi government a few months back.

But the DMK is not worried. “We have more than the magic number of 118 - the simple majority - easily available to us through the backing of 35 MLAs belonging to the Congress even if one has to eventually subtract the 15 left legislators’ support in the assembly,” a senior DMK minister said.

“Who is there to challenge us? But for the BJP - whose presence in Tamil Nadu is a miniscule fraction above zero and the Vaiko-led MDMK, which has six legislators, other political parties here aren’t willing to touch the AIADMK with a bargepole,” the minister added.

But there are some who prophesy cross-voting by Congress legislators in a trial of strength at the assembly. “We need just 17 cross-votes to bring down the DMK government - two less than the number that helped Manmohan Singh win the trust vote on July 22,” said a former Congress minister at the centre who did not want to be identified.

On an otherwise quiet weekend, Satyamurthi Bhavan, the seat of the Congress party in Tamil Nadu, was buzzing with activity. One legislator who has been harping on the eventual return of ‘Kamaraj rule’ (Congress rule) in the state whistled an old Tamil film song which translates into English as “My heart is able to visualise a bright future”.

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