In what is seen as hard bargaining, DMK chief M Karunanidhi has announced that the DMK would pull out of the government if seat sharing talks for the assembly elections are not finalised and offer only issue based support to the government. The DMK is keeping a window wide open and sending a strong signal that they are willing to negotiate with the Congress and end the crisis.
DMK leader T R Baalu made it clear that the ministers would not be faxing their resignations but would give them only after talking to the prime minister. He said that the decision to withdraw from the government can be reversed, if the Congress and DMK finalise seat sharing talks for the assembly elections in the state which are due on April 13.
Sources in the PMO have acknowledged the hard bargaining by the DMK and say that the crisis would be resolved in the next 24 hours. It is clear that the PMO does not want any situation or accidents to rock the prime ministerial boat, even if it means agreeing to the demands of the DMK, which sources say are not limited to just the number of seats which are under dispute.
It is learnt that the DMK chief is very upset about reports that his daughter Kanimozhi is going to be interrogated by the CBI in connection with the 2G spectrum scam which is currently under investigation, and her close ties with the former telecom minister A Raja.
The other issue concerns the quality of seats being given by the DMK. The Congress wanted certain winning seats and this was simply not acceptable to the DMK leadership which fighting with its back to the wall to retain its government.
The Congress also wanted a clear understanding on power sharing before the elections but the DMK refused to entertain the request saying they would take it up after the polls were over.
However, what is intriguing is the statement of Karunanidhi that the Congress is trying to push the DMK out of the UPA alliance. State leaders are reading a great deal of significance in this statement. Some sections of the Congress have indicated that Union Home Minister P Chidambaram was keen to go with AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha as she appears to be on a winning wicket but with the AIADMK having just 9 MPs, and the Congress having already said no to her earlier, the situation looks difficult for the Congress.
It is learnt that Ghulam Nabi Azad who was in Jammu during the day, has rushed to Chennai to hold discussions with DMK leaders after he met Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the evening to discuss how best to salvage the situation. He is the general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu.