'Novice' Jairam dubs Baalu’s Stint 'Unmitigating Disaster' - The New Indian Express

'Novice' Jairam dubs Baalu’s Stint 'Unmitigating Disaster'

Published: 05th May 2014 08:08 AM

Last Updated: 05th May 2014 08:18 AM

Former allies Congress and DMK went head to head again on Sunday, accusing each other of craven political opportunism. This round of the slugfest was kick-started in Hyderabad by Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who called the DMK “ungrateful”. He also launched a scathing personal attack on DMK’s T R Baalu and called him an “unmitigating disaster”. Not one to take such an insult lying down, Baalu counter-attacked, dismissing Ramesh as a “political novice” who had kept quiet and enjoyed power with DMK’s support.

“I think, in retrospect, I feel let down by the attitude that DMK had. I think they took the Congress for granted and used the Congress,” Ramesh said, in an interview to PTI.

“DMK got a lot out of the Congress. Earlier, DMK government could not have survived and lasted five years without the support of the Congress. The DMK got the portfolios it wanted and pretty much behaved in the manner they wanted,” he added, expressing disappointment that the DMK had not allied with Congress in the Lok Sabha elections.

He tiptoed away from answering a question over whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should have taken a firmer line with the allocation of portfolios to the DMK, saying he was not privy to those discussions. “But I can tell you Baalu was unmitigating disaster as a Minister for Surface Transport and as a Minister for Environment and Forests,” said Ramesh.

This evoked a sharp reaction from Baalu. “I am very much surprised to learn that a novice politician like Jairam Ramesh, has the temerity to go on the record saying such things about a politician of standing and about a party with whose support his government survived,” Baalu told Express.

“Jairam Ramesh can say what he wants to about me now. But, he needs to make it clear why he kept quiet in 2009, when his party would have been decimated without the DMK’s support. They (Congress) are making such statements because of changes in political equations, after they have enjoyed power for 10 years with the DMK’s support,” fumed senior DMK leader Baalu, who contested from Sriperumbudur constituency in the recently held Lok Sabha polls.

He also defended the repeated changes to the chairmanship of NHAI during his tenure, saying the Centre’s appointees were unable to keep pace with him. “There was a lot of work to be done. We had to finish laying seven to 8 km of highway a day. The chairmen appointed by the government were not competent and were lazy fellows. A minister does not have to contend with that,” Baalu told Express.

The latest spat between leaders of the Congress and the DMK comes at a time when the two parties have been swinging wildly over their feelings for each other. DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi had attacked the Congress as having “forgotten gratitude” during a campaign speech exactly a month ago. He had, however, said his party would “forgive” and support the Congress if there was a need for a secular government. Congress leaders too have attacked the DMK for having enjoyed power at their expense, and have repeatedly brought up the allegations against former telecom ministers A Raja and Dayanidhi Maran.

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