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Why Cong's ties with DMK still remain entangled

Last updated on: March 8, 2011 08:34 IST

Why Cong's ties with DMK still remain entangled

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Renu Mittal

The ice may have broken between the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam after a standoff in the last two days, but the issues on which the allies were quarrelling still remain.

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who has been put in charge of negotiations with the DMK over seat sharing, has successfully put off the resignation of the DMK ministers.

Serious and concentrated attempts are on to bridge the differences between Congress and DMK and agree to contest the coming assembly elections in Tamil Nadu together.

Pranab Mukherjee, who spoke to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi twice during the day, with daughter Kanimozhi being the interpreter during the long distance telephonic conversations, appears to be of the view that the situation is difficult, but not impossible.

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Image: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi with Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi at a function in Chennai
Photographs: Babu Babu/Reuters
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Chidambaram's grouse against Alagiri

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For both the parties there are a multiplicity of factors and individuals who are making the matters difficult. One of them is Union Home Minister P Chidambaram who has a grouse against Karunanidhi's son Alagiri with both wanting to control the same area.

Chidambaram thinks that Alagiri tried to have him defeated during the last general elections in his Sivaganga constituency and now he is looking for revenge and wants more seats in his area, which Alagiri is resisting.

Sources say that Chidambaram, in order to boost his son Kartikeyan, wants the Youth Congress boys to get more seats (what he calls 'winning seats') from the DMK quota, which the DMK is unwilling to give.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi appears to be sharing Chidambaram's enthusiasm, but sources say that senior party leaders are not agreeable to this line on the eve of the assembly elections.

Pranab Mukherjee, who is credited with the view that keeping in mind both Tamil Nadu and the bigger picture of other states and the Congress party's credibility vis- -vis the allies, feels every effort should be made to keep the alliance in place.

He does not want the break with the DMK -- and in this he is said to be backed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.


Image: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram
Photographs: Reuters
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'We cannot help you in the 2G scam probe'

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After a meeting between Pranab Mukherjee, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel and DMK leader Dayanidhi Maran (with P Chidambaram kept out of the negotiations), Mukherjee met Sonia Gandhi at her office in the Parliament House and briefed her on the ongoing dialogue and the demands and counter demands.

Later he met Chidambaram and briefed him on the discussions.

Sources say that the Congress has very politely but firmly told Karunanidhi that the government cannot intervene or influence the ongoing 2G spectrum scam probe as it is being monitored by the Supreme Court, and even if it wants it cannot go slow or ask the Central Bureau of Investigation to lay off.

Karunanidhi's problem is that if and when his daughter Kanimozhi is interrogated in the case by the CBI, the next stop would be her mother Dayalu Ammal -- and this can lead to Karunanidhi himself which can be very difficult for him on the eve of elections.


Image: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee
Photographs: Reuters
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Jayalalitha can be the biggest gainer

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Congressmen are worried that Tamil Nadu may become another Bihar for them (where it lost miserably to the Janata Dal-United-BJP combine in 2010) since the elections is just weeks away and opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Jayalalitha has already settled her seats and begun her election campaign.

The timing is being questioned, as it can leave the party with very little room to maneuver at this stage.

While there may be no immediate threat to the government, senior leaders like Pranab Mukherjee realise that it was the National Democratic Alliance's vacillation from one alliance partner to another which led to the downfall of their government and the desertion of key allies from their ranks.


Image: AIADMK chief Jayalalitha
Photographs: Reuters
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UP Congress is unhappy over Mulayam's 'inclusion'

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On the other hand, Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh are unhappy at the thought of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav becoming a component of the UPA government.

They feel Mulayam would gain the most -- with the contest in UP being primarily focused between him and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati -- and the Congress would again be on the losing end.

It would also strain Rahul Gandhi's oft repeated slogan that the Congress would fight alone in UP.

Sources say another problem which may arise is that the Congress would have to accept whatever seats Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee gives them in West Bengal, leaving the party little room to strike a hard bargain in the state.


Image: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav
Photographs: Reuters
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Neither DMK, nor Congress wants to go alone in TN

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With the DMK ministers deferring their resignations for the day, it is likely that the situation would further crystallise by Tuesday since it is now clear that neither the DMK nor the Congress wants to go alone in Tamil Nadu, as the biggest beneficiary of that would be Jayalalitha.

Karunanidhi also has a difficult task cut out for him as he has to settle the internal wrangling between his family members for more seats for their respective supporters.

He also has to insulate his daughter in the 2G scam, has to give enough leeway for the Congress to keep the alliance going, and on top of that, has to do this quickly before the electoral damage is done as the election process in the state has begun.


Image: DMK supremo M Karunanidhi
Photographs: Reuters
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