"Don't want to disturb the ruling coalition till Presidential polls"
M Karunanidhi retracts statement within hours of threatening to “withdraw support” to the UPA government
Hours within threatening to “withdraw support” to the UPA government if the “situation warranted,” M Karunanidhi retracted from his statements, saying that he did not want the “present ruling coalition to be disturbed till the Presidential elections.” Leading a rally almost after a decade and a half, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief had made his “threat” statements earlier in the day on Wednesday 30 May.
Demanding a roll back of fuel prices in Tamil Nadu, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) organised rallies across the state on Wednesday 30 May. The DMK has also demanded a reduction of the excise duty on crude oil by the Centre and Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol by the state government.
Karunanidhi, who turns 88 on 3 June, led a public protest in front of the state guest house near the Chepauk cricket stadium. Addressing the rally in the morning , Karunanidhi had said, “We will never hesitate to oppose the anti-people policies of the any government. We have withdrawn support to the AB Vajpayee-led NDA government in 2003 as we felt that it was pursuing anti-people policies. We will not hesitate to do the same even now .”
This was not the first time that Karuanidhi had threatened to withdraw support to the UPA. He had asked the DMK ministers to resign from the Cabinet in March 2011, when the talks of an alliance between the Congress and the DMK had hit a road block with the Congress demanding more seats. The issue was mitigated after the Congress high command sent Ghulam Nabi Azad to mediate.
In the past, Karunanidhi has always opposed petroleum prices hikes, but had never organised any protest since 2004, when DMK became an ally of the Congress. Whenever he was in power, he would reduce the VAT on petrol to provide some relief to the public. The VAT on petrol generates high revenues for the state government and is topped by earning from excise duty on liquor. The VAT on petrol contributes nearly 20 percent of the commercial taxes and any reduction would affect the tax collection of the state, which is reeling under a Rs 1.5 lakh crore debt.
Adding fuel to the fire, Chennai and its suburbs are reeling under an acute shortage of petrol and diesel due to a halt in production at the Mangalore refinery, which caters to the bulk of the demand of Chennai. The oil companies had to divert 67,000 kilolitres of diesel and petrol from Kochi to Chennai by ship to overcome the shortage.
Meanwhile, the ruling AIADMK too staged protests in front of central government offices yesterday, while the NDA and left parties had separately called for bandhs in the state tomorrow.
His leading the anti petroleum hike rally was an important message to poll watchers as well. With differences within Karunanidhi’s family reaching a new height, the question of whether the DMK will pull out of the ruling alliance at the Centre is a matter of speculation in the political circles.
Union Minister MK Azhagiri and his brother MK Stalin are said to be engaged in a turf war, each hoping to be anointed Karunanidhi’s successor. Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi is also keen on getting some important party post, but the 2G spectrum case against her is considered to be a stumbling block for her elevation in the party. However, party veterans such as Veerapandi S Arumugam and Ko Si Mani do not want any change in the party leadership till 2014 Lok Sabha polls.