| MDMK chief Vaiko (left) and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan, who had on Sunday promised to join Karunanidhi’s Progressive Secular Front, wave at supporters from the designated Pota court at Poonamallee in Chennai on Monday. Eight colleagues of Vaiko were granted conditional bail by Madras High Court on Monday. They had been chargesheeted along with Vaiko under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for speaking in support of the banned LTTE at a public meeting near Madurai in June 2002. (PTI)
Chennai, Jan. 12: The Pattali Makkal Katchi today decided to quit the central coalition and join the DMK-led secular front emerging in Tamil Nadu, in a turnaround the party said was forced by latest developments in the state.
Only a fortnight ago, the PMK had said it would continue to be part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance even after the DMK and the MDMK walked out.
Founder-leader S. Ramadoss, who announced the decision this evening after a meeting of the PMK’s political affairs committee, said he would withdraw the party’s two Union ministers — A.K. Moorthy, minister of state for railways, and .T. Shanmugham, minister of state for food processing. They will formally resign either tomorrow or the day after.
However, the exit of the PMK — which has five Lok Sabha MPs — is unlikely to affect the stability of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government. The central coalition still has the support of over 280 MPs. The effective majority mark is 272.
Ramadoss did not fault the Prime Minister’s style of functioning and even had some kind words for him for ensuring that the coalition did not deviate from the common agenda for governance. But he said the situation in Tamil Nadu had completely changed with people’s mood “totally set against the anti-democratic, anti-labour, anti-poor policies of the ADMK regime led by Jayalalithaa”.
The PMK leader said he was against the dissolution of the Lok Sabha nearly nine months in advance, but with dissolution “almost becoming a certainty”, the PMK was ready for polls.
One reason why the PMK had decided to quit, Ramadoss said, was that the polls were “turning out to be a referendum” against the ADMK regime’s “all-round repressive” policies and his party “did not want to split the anti-ADMK votes”.
Asserting that Tamil Nadu was on the verge of a “turning point in its history”, he said in the interests of the state, it was imperative to ensure consolidation of anti-Jayalalithaa votes.
“Unfortunately”, the BJP, despite its “bitter experiences with Jayalalithaa” in the past, had openly asked her to lead the NDA, the PMK resolution said.
“This fact has also been confirmed by NDA convenor George Fernandes,” Ramadoss said.
The BJP’s “cosying up” to the ADMK was clearly against the “expectations, sentiments and thought currents” of Tamils. Therefore, the PMK was quitting the NDA to protect the self-respect of Tamils, Ramadoss said, adding that this could be achieved only by being part of the DMK-led front.
He said the question of the PMK extending outside support to the NDA did not arise as Parliament is expected to be dissolved soon.
Soon after the meeting, Ramadoss drove to the DMK headquarters and formally conveyed to DMK chief M. Karunanidhi his decision to join the front, including the Congress, that the former chief minister is shaping.
Karunanidhi today said the Prime Minister could not have been “serious” when he ridiculed the Congress yesterday for aligning with a party it had blamed for Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.
“After all, Vajpayee had run the NDA government in Delhi for nearly five years in partnership with the DMK,” he said.