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TAMIL NADU

Desperate Karunanidhi opens up to coalitions

Thursday 27 April 2006, by MENON*Jaya

Madurai, April 26 : It’s election time, and anything is possible, even a change of heart on crucial issues like coalitions. Facing a tough electoral battle, DMK president M Karunanidhi, who had till now shut himself and his party away from coalition governments in Tamil Nadu, is singing a different tune today.

On April 17, for the first time, Karunanidhi hinted that he had softened his stand on the issue. ??Whether it is a coalition government or single-party rule, the Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA) is for the removal of the AIADMK government. This is my only motive. With this aim in mind, the DPA adopted a flexible policy during the seat-sharing talks,’’ the DMK chief declared at a Chennai function in which his Congress allies were also present.

After MDMK quit the DPA, Karunanidhi generously apportioned seats to his allies the Congress, Pattali Makkal Katchi, the Left, and the Indian Union Muslim League, desperate to keep the alliance in tact. He kept just 129 seats for his DMK.

With all indications that it might be a nail-biting finish in the state, it seems an uphill task for the party to win 118 seats in the 234-strong Assembly and achieve a clear majority on its own. The AIADMK is contesting 182 seats.

Perhaps sensing the voters’ mood, the DMK chief changed tack stating his party was not opposed to a coalition government if that was ??the will of the people’’. While all indications pointed to a single-party majority for the DMK, he was nevertheless not averse to sharing power, if only ??to dislodge the anti-people Jayalalithaa government’’.

On April 20, launching his party’s campaign from Tuticorin in south Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi again declared that if a coalition government was unavoidable then ??we are not against it’’. He hastily added that ??as per present indications, the chances of DMK forming its own ministry are bright’’.

Only a year ago, Union Minister E V K S Elangovan was forced to withdraw his remarks that ??coalitions at the Centre and in many states had become the order of the day and that Tamil Nadu could not be an exception for long’’. A furious Karunanidhi demanded his scalp. A DMK resolution passed at a high level strategy meeting demanded that ??suitable action’’ be taken against the minister ??in an appropriate manner’’.

In a damage limiting exercise, Sonia Gandhi was pressed to speak to Karunanidhi and sort out the ?misunderstanding’. The Congress disassociated itself from Elangovan’s statements, saying it was his ??personal views’’.

Elangovan himself rushed to Karunanidhi’s Gopalapuram residence in Chennai to apologise for his remarks and make peace.

But that seems a long time ago now.

See online : The Indian Express

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