PMK divorces UPA to join AIADMK, Congress dejected (Third Lead)

March 26th, 2009 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Anbumani Ramadoss Chennai/New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) The PMK Thursday abandoned the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to forge a tie-up with the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, dealing a blow to the Congress that has already lost allies in three major states.
After days of uncertainty when the Congress pleaded with the PMK not to desert the DMK-Congress coalition, PMK members voted overwhelmingly at its General Council meeting here to sail with the AIADMK’s rainbow alliance.

PMK leader and central Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said 2,453 members voted to go with the AIADMK while only 117 wanted to remain with the existing DMK-led grouping in Tamil Nadu. He said he would call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 48 hours to resign from the government.

“As all of you have overwhelmingly voted for aligning with the AIADMK-led political alliance, I have to agree to your wishes,” his father and PMK’s founder S. Ramadoss, a doctor, told the gathering to thunderous applause. The announcement, at the end of two hours, was welcomed with firecrackers by cheering PMK supporters.

The younger Ramadoss said while his party would continue to maintain “relations with Congress leaders at the personal level, politics is different”.

The PMK has thus ended an uneasy relationship with Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK, a key component of the Congress-led UPA, and switched over to the AIADMK, which already has on its side Vaiko’s MDMK and the Communist Party of India as well as the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M). The Communists ditched their long-standing ally DMK last year over the India-US nuclear deal.

Political analysts admitted the PMK decision was a morale booster to the AIADMK, which is itching to avenge its 2004 humiliation when it was routed in all 39 Lok Sabha seats of Tamil Nadu and the lone seat in Puducherry.

The AIADMK has reportedly offered the PMK seven Lok Sabha seats and one Rajya Sabha berth. The PMK now has six members in the Lok Sabha, and even such a small number would be crucial to any government formation in the event of a widely expected hung parliament.

Anbumani Ramadoss exuded confidence that the AIADMK-led alliance would come on top in Tamil Nadu. “Wherever PMK is, (it becomes) the winning front. We have seen it in the last 10 years.”

While one Tamil Nadu Congress leader hit out at the PMK calling it communal, most Congress leaders were disappointed, realising the long-term impact.

“The PMK decision is not unexpected. It will not have any impact on UPA. The PMK is a communal party,” said K. Jayakumar, a Congress legislator in Tamil Nadu.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi chose his words carefully, saying his party had “made every effort to reach out to the PMK leadership. There has been no act of commission on our part”.

And, in words that betrayed the Congress uneasiness, he said: “We have no doubt that anyone who wants to dilute the (UPA) alliance will have to take the responsibility for whatever happens.”

DMK leader and former central minister Dayanidhi Maran, however, argued that the PMK’s going away would not matter. He said the DMK-Congress would sweep the 40 Lok Sabha seats of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. “We are much better off now. We have less baggage,” he said.

The rift between the DMK and PMK turned serious in April 2008 when Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi rejected S. Ramadoss’ claim for a Rajya Sabha seat from the state, saying it should go to the Congress.

The fissures widened over the DMK’s and the central government’s refusal to come out more vocally on the side of the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan Tamils.

The DMK government jailed PMK leader Kaduvetti Guru under the National Security Act over a murder charge in July last year, angering Ramadoss.

The PMK left the DMK-led coalition in June last year but continued in the Congress-led UPA in New Delhi. Now that relationship too has ended.

The Tamil Nadu blow comes on top of the Congress failure to sew up alliances in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, which together elect 162 Lok Sabha members.

The Congress rebuffed the Samajwadi Party’s offer of under 20 seats in Uttar Pradesh (80 seats) to go it alone. In Bihar (40 seats), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) have virtually abandoned the Congress although they remain with the UPA in New Delhi. In Andhra Pradesh (42 seats), the Congress has lost the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS).

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