With Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers M.K. Alagiri showing signs of disquiet at not being able to have his way in the affairs of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the party leadership is worried about the political fallout, with the general election only months away.
Mr. Alagiri, who was never comfortable as Union Minister, spoke to his father and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi a few days ago about his desire to play a greater role in the DMK. Although he was made the organising secretary for the southern zone of the party, Mr. Alagiri resented the fact that his younger brother and Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M.K. Stalin continued to wield influence within the party units in the southern districts.
Developments over the 2G spectrum issue also appear to have agitated Mr. Alagiri, who wanted the party to take a tough line against the former Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, A. Raja. Mr. Alagiri asked Mr. Karunanidhi to remove Mr. Raja from his post as the DMK's propaganda secretary, arguing that the party needed to distance itself from the spectrum scam.
According to a senior leader, the DMK leadership feels that any action against Mr. Raja would amount to admitting wrongdoings in the 2G spectrum allocation. The party's stand has been that there were no irregularities in the allocation and that Mr. Raja was targeted because he was a Dalit.
Indeed, the party has launched a campaign in defence of Mr. Raja. Mr. Stalin too had addressed a public meeting in support of Mr. Raja. At this point of time, the party sees no benefit in distancing itself from Mr. Raja. “When the Congress itself supports us on this issue, how can we disown Mr. Raja now,” said the leader.
On Wednesday, Mr. Karunanidhi offered no comments on reports of Mr. Alagiri threatening to resign as Union Minister.
However, according to a source close to the Chief Minister, Mr. Karunanidhi might consider giving his reaction to the issue at a later point. “The reports [of Mr. Alagiri resigning] are false,” the source said.
Mr. Alagiri avoided journalists who tried to meet him at his residence in Sathya Sai Nagar in Madurai on Wednesday. He did not attend a function at Usilampatti, near the temple town, where Mr. Stalin inaugurated a samathuvapuram, a colony for people of all castes and communities.
Mr. Stalin, who was on an official visit to Sivaganga district and Madurai, did not meet his elder brother. He avoided the press at Madurai and drove straight to the airport.