Unfazed by the DMK's withdrawal of support to the UPA, Government today asserted it was "absolutely stable" and not a "lame duck" and said it will move amendments to the resolution on Sri Lanka at UNHRC to send a "resolute message" on that country's human rights.
The government fielded three senior ministers -- P Chidambaram, Kamal Nath and Manish Tewari -- before the media to insist that DMK's demands were in the process of being considered and wondered why the ally changed its position after promising to reconsider its decision to withdraw support. The UPA's second biggest constituent with 18 Lok Sabha MPs quit the alliance yesterday.
'We are not a lame duck government'
With questions being raised about the stability of the government, Kamal Nath, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, firmly said, "We are not a lame duck government."
"The government is neither lame, nor duck. It is not lame duck. We are absolutely, absolutely stable. If there is any test, it is on the floor of the House. But no political party has come out to challenge our majority," he said.At the same time, the three ministers asserted that there was no threat to the government despite DMK's pull out.
"Just because one ally pulled out, the government has not become
weak... There is no political instability or political uncertainty...
Nobody has questioned our stability except for few voices in the media,"
Asked whether the government will test its stability by going in for
Confidence Motion, the ministers rejected any such possibility. "The
question does not arise as we have the majority," Chidambaram said.
Rejecting the impression that the UPA is now weaker and "on more
crutches", Chidambaram said, "We are in the government. It is our duty
to steer the ship through the maelstorm and our hands are firmly on the
Reiterating that there should be "no doubt" about the government's
stability or any "worry", Kamal Nath said it will continue with its
"We are absolutely, absolutely stable. If there is any test, it is on
the floor of the House. But no political party has challenged the
stability of the government," he said.
Asked whether the Congress would try to rope in some other parties, Nath said in politics, doors are always open.
On the fate of economic reforms and other welfare measures, Chidambaram said, "We will contine to push for legislation. Just yesterday, the Cabinet clerared the Food Security Bill.
"The Bill will be introduced in Parliament and I am absolutely confident there will be enough support in Parliament to pass it," he said.
"As far as executive action is concerned, only this morning the Ministers approved disinvestment in Sail. So we are taking executive actions, we are pushing bills. I
dont' see us any weaker today than what we were yesterday.'India wants UN to adopt a strong resolution on Sri Lanka'
Stating that India wanted the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to adopt a "strong" resolution on Sri Lanka, Chidambaram said India will move amendments to the draft to send a "resolute message" to that country on alleged human rights violations of Tamils and "goad" it to have an independent inquiry, a key demand of the
The Finance Minister also dismissed allegations that India had sought dilution of the strongly-worded resolution by the US, saying it was an absolute "canard".
He rejected reports that India was diluting the resolution, terming it as a "canard".
"India's position has always been and remains that the UNHRC should
adopt a strong resolution that would send a resolute message to Sri
Lanka and goad Sri Lanka to accept an independent and credible
investigation," Chidambaram said.
'Not aware why DMK changed its position between March 18 and 19'
Giving sequence of events that took place over the last two days, he said Karunanidhi wrote to the Prime Minister on the Sri Lanka issue on March 18 with particular reference to the resolution that is under consideration of the
Subsequently, when Defence Minister A K Antony, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Chidambaram met the DMK chief on March 18, he 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.
The next morning, Gandhi made strong comments on the Lanka situation at the CPP meeting, Chidambaram said while reading out the passage from the Congress chief's speech.
"Shortly thereafter, at about 10 AM, the (Congress) 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," the Finance Minister said.
"Even as the meeting was underway, the media reported that M Karunanidhi had announced that DMK would withdraw its ministers from the government and would withdraw support to
UPA. He also stated that if Parliament adopted a resolution before the end of the current sittings, the DMK would reconsider its decision," Chidambaram said.
"We are not aware of the reasons why the DMK changed its position between the night of March 18 and the morning of March 19," he said.
Noting that the Core Group and senior ministers met several times yesterday, he referred to such a meeting last night and said even when it was underway, DMK leaders met President Pranab Mukherjee and gave a letter withdrawing support.
Chidambaram claimed that the DMK was aware of the government's position on the issue but had changed its position between the night of March 18 and morning of March 19.
"We are not aware of the reasons why the DMK changed its position between the night of March 18 and the morning of March 19," Chidambaram said, while noting that DMK supremo M Karunanidhi had said the party would reconsider decision to withdraw support if Parliament adopts a resolution before the end of current sittings on March 22.
Referring to DMK's demands, Chidambaram said the government had begun the process of formulating amendments to the draft resolution before the
"The amendments were finalised yesterday," he said, adding India's Permanent Representative to the UNHRC is in Delhi and he will be given "suitable instructions to move the amendments" at the UN meet.
'Congress has always stood for Tamils' rights'
Asked whether there was a possibility of a dialogue with DMK to persuade it to reconsider its decision, Nath said in democracy, doors are never shut.
On DMK's other demand for Parliament's resolution, he said opinion was divided among political parties on whether there was a need for it as also the content.
Nath said he is holding consultations with other political parties in this regard to arrive at a consensus.
On Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav's remarks that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had better style of functioning, Nath said it was for him
(Yadav) to say "if he finds BJP good or bad".
The three ministers insisted that the efforts for resolution were irrespective of whether DMK reconsiders its decision to withdraw support or not.
Chidambaram said the resolution was being contemplated keeping in view the sentiments of Tamil people.
"Every political party represents people. There are Tamils in the state of Tamil Nadu as also outside. There is also Tamil
diaspora. Congress, from the time of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, has always stood for the rights of Tamils," he said.
In this regard, he referred to Congress President Sonia Gandhi's statement yesterday at CPP that reports of "unspeakable atrocities" on ethnic Tamils cannot go un-investigated and there must be "independent and credible" probe.
Nath said he had told political parties yesterday that the government wanted to bring the resolution keeping in view the sentiments of Tamils.
Nath said BJP has openly said that it does not favour any country-specific resolution and even NCP leader Sharad Pawar has "his views" on the issue.
However, Pawar has said that he will go with the government's decision, Nath said.
On the reported complaint of Karunanidhi that he was not consulted on amendments to be moved to the UN resolution, Chidambaram said he would be informed once those are
To questions about "whims and fancies" expressed by UPA allies like Samajwadi Party to pressurise the government, Nath said in coalition politics, there is a need to consult partners.
Seeking to downplay pulls and pressures of a coalition, Chidambaram said the UPA was in the ninth year of its rule. He, however, admitted that there are "some challenges" in running a coalition government.
'Matter can be resolved through dialogue'
Meanwhile, Law Minister Ashwini Kumar expressed hope that they could still bring back DMK into the UPA fold through dialogue.
"DMK was one of our trusted allies. Whatever happened should not have taken place. We are hopeful that we will be able to get the party back into the UPA fold. The matter can be resolved amicably through dialogue," he told reporters outside Parliament.
He maintained there is no threat to the government and that it will complete its full term. "There is no political instability in the country. The government is stable," he said.
Asked if his party has kept the doors open for JD (U), he said, "It would not be wise to project anything beforehand".
After DMK pullout, speculation has mounted that the UPA will be
vulnerable to pressures from its crucial outside supporters SP(22) and
BSP(21) who together account for 43 seats.
The strength of the UPA in the Lok Sabha has been
reduced to 224 but it enjoyed the support of 281 MPs that included those
of outside supporting parties. The Lok Sabha has 539 MPs at present as
four seats are vacant. The half-way mark is 27.
Speculation has also mounted that the UPA will be vulnerable to pressures from SP and BSP now that DMK has pulled out.
Full text of the press release:
“We wish to share with you certain developments since the last week end.
The President of the DMK, Shri M Karunanidhi, wrote a letter to the
Prime Minister on the Sri Lanka issue with particular reference to the
Resolution that is under consideration by the United Nations Human
Rights Council (UNHRC). Shri A. K. Antony, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad and I
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, Smt. Sonia Gandhi addressed the Congress Parliamentary Party and stated, inter alia,
“The plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka is very close to our hearts. Our
support for their equal rights and equal protection of the laws to them
has been unwavering since the days of Indiraji and Rajivji. We are most
pained at the manner in which their legitimate political rights continue
to be denied to them. We are anguished by reports of unspeakable
atrocities on innocent civilians and children, especially during the
last days of the conflict of 2009. That is why we demand an independent
and credible inquiry into the violation of human rights in Sri Lanka.”
Shortly thereafter, 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.
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. A section of the media has
reported that India worked with the United States to ‘dilute’ the text
of the draft Resolution. This is a canard. The story is stoutly denied.
India’s position has always been – and remains – that the UNHRC should
adopt a strong Resolution that would send a resolute message to Sri
Lanka and goad Sri Lanka to accept an independent and credible
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
In the meanwhile, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has written
a letter dated 18.3.2013 to the Prime Minister urging that India should
move amendments to the draft Resolution before the UNHRC.
As far as the Government is concerned, our position is that we
intend to move amendments to the draft Resolution before the UNHRC. We
will also continue to consult political parties on bringing a Resolution
to be adopted by Parliament.”