As the noose tightens around textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran, his party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is quietly but surely distancing itself from him.
Whatever the merits of the case against Maran, the DMK top leadership, including party supremo M Karunanidhi's sons and other ideologues, has not come out in his support.
The only statements in his favour have come from junior functionaries such as a spokesman called P Ramalingam who said Jayalalithaa has cases against her, too, and she should consider those before seeking Maran's resignation.
DMK distances itself from Maran
But an already demoralised DMK cadre -- never favourably inclined towards the Maran brothers because they firmly believe the Marans would always put business before politics -- is unlikely to come out in their support vociferously.
Very little is known about the strategies of the man who claims he was a victim of the then telecom minister. C Sivasankaran, an industrialist in Tamil Nadu who helped set up Kalaignar Television, was very close to the DMK till the Marans supplanted him.
'They are Congressmen in DMK'
Those who know the history of his rise are not sure if his charges will hold in a court of law because the company he is implicating, Maxis, is listed on the bourses of several southeast Asian nations and is a very large conglomerate, with interests in various businesses. Sivasankaran may be summoned by the Central Bureau of Investigation to make a statement sooner than later.
Conflicting versions are coming out of Anna Arivalayam, the DMK headquarters, about the conduct of the Marans. Their father, Murasoli, was a nephew of Karunanidhi and a thoroughbred ideologue. "These two brothers are fair-skinned. They speak English and Hindi and call Sonia Gandhi 'auntie'. They are actually Congressmen in the DMK," a lower level DMK functionary said.
Maran's channel had targeted Raja
Party functionaries recall when ties between the DMK and the Congress reached breaking point just before the assembly elections over the number of seats, it was Dayanidhi Maran who reached out to Azhagiri, Karunanidhi's elder son, to persuade him to make peace with the Congress. Azhagiri had argued that DMK ministers should resign from the government.
In late 2008, a major family breach between Karunanidhi and the Marans led to their TV channels putting out reports against the then telecom minister, A Raja, for at least three months, after which they made up.
Why is the PM quiet?
In December, after they had made up, Karunanidhi was asked at a press conference, "What about the 2G spectrum scandal that Sun TV has been raking up?" His reply was: "That is irrelevant."
The Congress in Tamil Nadu is wondering why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been quiet if he knows the facts about the case against Maran. They see a repeat of the Raja story, in allowing Maran to stay on as minister until it becomes impossible to sustain him any more.