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DMK speaks in two voices

New Delhi, Aug. 19: DMK leader and environment and forests minister T.R. Baalu rose in defence of the Vajpayee government during the no-trust debate today, as expected.

DMK chief M. Karunanidhi had said he was with the government well before the debate started yesterday.

But Baalu’s speech this afternoon mirrored the DMK’s growing suspicions about the BJP’s commitment to their alliance and its proximity with Jayalalithaa’s ADMK. He was passionate in his defence of the Prime Minister but was circumspect in his criticism of the Congress and Sonia Gandhi.

In a way, Baalu spoke both for the treasury and the Opposition benches. Though he listed some of the government’s achievements, he focused more on defending his own record and that of colleague Murasoli Maran.

Baalu emphasised on the value of friendship. For 26 years, Karunanidhi and BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani have been friends, he said. “The friendship has blossomed over the years,” the minister added. Then he appealed to the BJP: “Please don’t indulge in treachery in this friendship. We will be your dependable friends. But friendship is not for fun.”

Finally came the warning. Karunanidhi always stands by friends but never forgives a betrayal, he said. Baalu then went into Opposition mode. He said the Centre might not have done enough to intervene in the Supreme Court in the case between the Tamil Nadu government and its employees. He also questioned MDMK member Vaiko’s detention under the terror law.

The ADMK members heard him out silently. But CPM’s Basudev Acharya advised Baalu to quit the government rather than make such statements sitting in the treasury benches.

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