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Published on 6 Mar. 2011 12:55 AM IST
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Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK on Saturday ended its seven-year alliance with the Congress and pulled out of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government after running into roadblocks over seat sharing in assembly elections only a month away.
The dramatic decision, announced after a meeting of DMK leaders including Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, robbed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government of majority support in the Lok Sabha where the Congress-led UPA coalition will now have only 256 MPs -- less than the half-way 272.
But with the DMK saying it would still give “issue-based support”, a stand similar to that of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Congress sources said there was no immediate danger to the UPA government.
The DMK move, however, took the Congress by surprise. One of its leaders, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, called the decision “sudden”.
The DMK move followed the Congress insistence on contesting from 63 of Tamil Nadu’s 234 assembly seats while a peeved DMK was willing to concede only 60.
As the Congress remained adamant and reportedly made it clear that it would also pick the 63 seats, Karunanidhi lashed out past Friday midnight, calling the Congress stand “unjustified”.
At the Saturday evening meeting, DMK leaders voiced bitterness vis-a-vis the Congress and decided it was time to part ways with a party they had allied with since the 2004 Lok Sabha election.
DMK leader and former central minister T.R. Baalu denied the decision was linked to the raging spectrum corruption scandal which led to the arrest of DMK’s former communications minister A. Raja and to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raid on Karunanidhi’s family-owned Kalaignar TV.
A DMK statement said the Congress intransigence showed it was not keen on having it as an ally. “Hence we decided to pull out,” it said. Baalu said the decision had been conveyed to Congress leaders in New Delhi. He added that the DMK’s six ministers in the Manmohan Singh council of ministry would submit their resignation.
The snapping of relations left the Congress high and dry in Tamil Nadu, where it had supported the Karunanidhi government for the past five years while taking DMK support for its government in Puducherry.
With Tamil Nadu set to pick a new assembly April 13, the Congress is without a major ally in a state where politics continues to be dominated by the DMK and its arch rival, the AIADMK.
Both the DMK and AIADMK have sewed up alliances with several smaller parties for the elections that will see a close contest.
UPA not in danger
The UPA is in no danger of losing majority at the Centre even if the DMK pulls out of the government.
With 18 members of the Lok Sabha, DMK is the third largest constituent of the UPA after Congress and Trinamool Congress. While Congress has 207 MPs, Trinamool Congress is 19-member strong.
Other constituents of the UPA are NCP (9 members), National Conference (3), IUML (2) and JVM and VCK (1 each).
Without the 18-member DMK, the strength of the UPA comes down to 242 from 260. The magic number of simple majority in the 543-member Lok Sabha is 272.
The Congress-led coalition has a cushion available in the form of several parties like the Samajwadi Party and the BSP which provide outside support. SP has 22 members and BSP 21. Jaya Prada is an expelled member of the SP and is seen as a member supporting the UPA.
Besides, four-member RJD, three-member JD-S are also outside supporters.
With the outside support of these parties, the strength of the Congress-led UPA minus the DMK stands at 311, well past the magic figure of 272.
DMK has been with the Congress-led UPA since 2004 and has been generally been a dependable ally for the ruling party at the Centre.

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