Gloves start to come off in UPA-DMK politics over Elam Tamils

The tussle between the Centre and the DMK over the Sri Lanka Tamils issue is fast turning nasty, if one reads between the lines of home minister P Chidambaram’s response to DMK’s move to withdraw support to the central government late yesterday.

In a statement that contained as many hints as information, Chidambaram today said he was at a loss to figure out the actions of the DMK party.

In a way, the statement is seen as an attempt by the Congress to deny or restrict any political advantage that the DMK may try to gain in Tamil Nadu by withdrawing support over the Lanka Tamils issue.

He also said that opinion is divided on the issue of bringing a parliamentary resolution on the matter.

Chidambaram noted that he, AK Antony and Ghulam Nabi Azad met with, and had an understanding with K Karunanidhi on Monday, soon after the DMK leader fired off a letter demanding a parliamentary resolution and amendments to a UNHRC resolution.

We “visited Chennai on 18.3.2013 to discuss the contents of the letter with Shri M Karunanidhi and his senior colleagues. As you are aware – and as disclosed by Shri M Karunanidhi – the DMK urged the Government to bring amendments to the draft Resolution before the UNHRC and also to take steps to bring a Resolution to be adopted by Parliament. We returned to Delhi late on the night of 18.3.2013.

“On the morning of 19.3.2013, .. at about 10.00 AM, the Core Group met to discuss the outcome of the meeting in Chennai. It was decided to formulate amendments to the draft Resolution before the UNHRC. It was also decided to consult political parties on bringing a Resolution to be adopted by Parliament.

“Even as the meeting was underway, the media reported that Shri M Karunanidhi had announced that the DMK would withdraw its Ministers from the Government and would withdraw support to the UPA. He also stated that if Parliament adopted a Resolution before the end of the current sittings, the DMK would reconsider its decision. We are not aware of the reasons why the DMK changed its position between the night of 18.3.2013 and the morning of 19.3.2013,” Chidambaram said.

However, that was not the only puzzling act from the DMK’s side, the finance minister went on.

“Nevertheless, Government began to formulate amendments to the draft Resolution before the UNHRC. The amendments were finalized yesterday. India’s Permanent Representative to the UNHRC is in Delhi for consultations. He will be given suitable instructions to move the amendments at the meeting of the UNHRC.

“On the issue of a Resolution to be adopted by Parliament, my colleague the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Kamal Nath, began consultations yesterday with the political parties. Opinion on the matter is divided. The consultations are continuing and it may be possible to reach a conclusion only later today.

“The Core Group and other senior Ministers met several times yesterday to review the situation. Even as another meeting was underway late last night, DMK leaders met the President of India and gave a letter withdrawing support. We are not aware of the reasons why the DMK changed its position between the morning of 19.3.2013 and the night of 19.3.2013,” he added.

The statement implies two things — 1) that DMK seems to be in no mood to re-enter the UPA, and 2) the government seems to be well aware of the risk and is trying to minimize DMK’s benefits from the political move.