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Worrying signs for Karunanidhi and co in 2011

Last updated on: December 22, 2010 14:02 IST

Worrying signs for Karunanidhi and co in 2011

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The 2G spectrum scam that cost A Raja his chair took the steam out of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's preparations for the 2011 Tamil Nadu polls during the year that saw All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Jayalalithaa taking up cudgels against the party and asking Congress to dump its ally.

Revelations of reported conversation between DMK MP Kanimozhi and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and Raja being summoned by CBI for questioning in connection with the 2G spectrum scam added to the DMK's woes. Jayalalithaa and other Opposition party leaders made a major issue out of them and demanded the arrest of the former telecom minister.

This was the first time in DMK's history that the party asked one of its nominees to resign under intense opposition pressure after a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India indicted Raja for his role in the 2G spectrum allocation.

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Image: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi
Photographs: Reuters
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Karunanidhi pulled out all the stops, including playing the 'Dalit card', to save his 'affectionate brother' and let him continue as telecom minister, but in vain as Raja was forced to quit after Opposition parties stalled proceedings in Parliament demanding his resignation.

While Karunanidhi and a few DK leaders commented on the developments, others including Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin and Union minister M K Alagiri maintained a studied silence.

All seemed well for DMK till November as it was savouring the successful conduct of the World Tamil Classical Conference and a spectacular win in by-elections to Pennagaram assembly constituency in PMK-dominated area.

But, the CAG report on the 2G spectrum allocation came as a dampener for DMK and incidents after Raja's resignation like raids at his home and that of his aides have also raised question marks over the future of the DMK-Congress alliance.


Image: Former telecom minister A Raja

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Worrying signs for Karunanidhi and co in 2011

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As DMK struggled to get out of the 2G mess, Jayalalithaa sought to fish in troubled waters by asking Congress and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to dump DMK and sack Raja from the cabinet with a promise of the support of 18 MPs for the coalition.

However, the Congress quickly rejected the offer.

AIADMK and its poll partners Left parties also made attempts to reach out to the people by organising public meetings on the 'Himalayan corruption of the century'.

However, Karunanidhi continued to defend Raja and said it was a myth that a single individual could have swallowed Rs 1.76 lakh crore, the presumptuous loss projected by CAG.

DMK faced further embarrassment when the Radia tapes were made public in which Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi openly speaks against her relative Dayanidhi Maran during cabinet formation in 2009.


Image: Kanimozhi, caught in the storm

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Worrying signs for Karunanidhi and co in 2011

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The year also saw both Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa encouraging their respective party workers to get into poll mode, with the latter virtually launching her campaign from Coimbatore and rounding it off by storming Madurai, considered the stronghold of Alagiri.

The DMK continued its dominance in the state politics, winning another by-election at Pennagaram.

DMK had romped home in PMK's citadel, leaving a dispirited AIADMK in the third spot.

Jayalalithaa launched scathing attacks on the ruling DMK, which was watched closely in the power corridors.

She had received death threat by way of letters and the party took up the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh even as the state government clarified that she was being given adequate security and was under high Z plus security category.




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Worrying signs for Karunanidhi and co in 2011

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The six-year-old Congress-DMK combine faced some strains with a section of leaders in Congress, especially the youth, criticising the DMK on various fronts including on claiming credit for certain projects.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, during her visit to Tamil Nadu in October, also told the party workers that the party should have its own identity in the state.

Karunanidhi achieved his twin ambitions when the Tamil Nadu Assembly okayed his proposal to revive the Legislative Council, abolished in 1986 by the MG Ramachandran-headed AIADMK government and Coimbatore played host to the first-ever World Classical Tamil Conference.


Image: Sonia with Karunanidhi in Chennai

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Worrying signs for Karunanidhi and co in 2011

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The ruling DMK won a voting in the assembly to revive the council, after AIADMK and CPI-M opposed it.

The 86-year-old DMK patriarch was all smiles a few days later when the industrial city, Coimbatore, played host to the Tamil Conference amid a boycott by the AIADMK on the grounds that it had lacked the recognition of the International Association for Tamil Research.

The conference was not only meant to be test for the organisation skills of Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi MP but also seen as an effort by the Dravidian party to bolster its hold in the 'kongu' belt comprising Coimbatore, Erode, Salem and other areas.

The emotional issue of ethnic strife in Sri Lanka continued to get reflected in the state. A Tamil Nadu fisherman was killed in an alleged attack by the Sri Lankan Navy while many were injured in repeated attacks.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao called on Karunandhi after her visit to the island nation and said that India was determined to accelerate rehabilitation in Sri Lanka.

Rights activists also opposed the appointment of former chief secretary K S Sripathy as Chief Information Commissioner.



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Worrying signs for Karunanidhi and co in 2011

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They contended that it was during his term as Vigilance Commissioner that the Tamil Nadu Vigilance Commission pushed for exempting the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption from the Right to Information purview.

Jayalalithaa had even boycotted a selection committee meeting to decide the candidate even as activists had sought her support in their fight against the probable appointment of Sripathy. She is a member of the committee by virtue of being the Opposition Leader.

Incessant rains caused flood havoc in the state with nearly 180 people perishing in various rain-related incidents. The state government decided to seek a Central grant of a little over Rs 1,600 crore.

The state continued to be involved in inter-state water disputes, with the vexed Cauvery issue threatening to return.

The emotional issue seemed to threaten delicate inter-state relations, with Karnataka ruling out release of water to Tamil Nadu. As farmers in the Delta region of the state panicked over lack of water for crops, monsoon came lashing on Tamil Nadu, bringing rains.



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However, the joy was short-lived as rains got heavier, resulting in floods and inundation, resulting in massive damage to crops and infrastructure. The CPI-M was in the news when senior party leader and former MLA, WR Varadarajan went missing and was later found dead from a city lake.

The veteran trade unionist had allegedly committed suicide amid allegations that the party had hounded him to death by stripping him of posts following some allegations.

Raja had to face further embarrassment when it emerged that he allegedly tried to influence Madras High Court judge S Raghupathy in a criminal case involving a father-son duo.

His close aide Chandramohan was suspended by the high court, looking into the case, as chairman of the Bar council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in this matter. The matter was referred to the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India.



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