It is waiting to hear what decision DMK will take at its meet today

The Congress appears to be prepared for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham withdrawing its Ministers from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and extending support only from outside, senior party sources told The Hindu.

Asked whether the Congress had a contingency plan, a senior party functionary said it was waiting to hear what decision the DMK took at its emergency meeting in Chennai on Friday, before taking the next step.

Stability

The DMK, which has 18 MPs, had provided a great measure of stability to the Union government, a Congress leader from the State said, and if it decided to withdraw its Ministers, that stability would definitely be affected.

The Congress, however, does not think that the DMK would withdraw support altogether, as it would then have no buffer between itself and the Jayalalithaa government.

This comes in the wake of the DMK announcing on Wednesday, a few hours after the Delhi High Court denied bail to MP and party chief M. Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum case, that it would convene an emergency meeting of its high-level committee on Friday, the first since it lost the recent Assembly elections.

The announcement of the meeting also comes amidst speculation that Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran may be asked to quit, if the allegations against him — during his tenure as Telecom Minister — are proved.

The Congress sources added that they had heard that the DMK leadership wished to avoid the embarrassment of Mr. Maran being asked to step down, since the possibility appeared to be quite strong.

For the Congress-led Union government, currently under fire on the issue of corruption, any change in the DMK's relationship with it will be a blow, the sources admitted, expressing concern.

The DMK originally had seven Ministers at the Centre — three in the Cabinet, A Raja, Mr. Maran and M.K. Alagiri, and four Ministers of State — S.S. Palanimanickam, D. Napoleon, S. Gandhiselvan and S. Jagathrakshakan. Mr. Raja was forced to resign on November 14, 2010, in the wake of the 2G scam.

Events taking their toll

Meanwhile, a Congress leader from Tamil Nadu, while stressing that there was no question of the party attempting to swap the support of the DMK's 18 MPs with the AIADMK's nine MPs, said the events of the last few months — starting with Mr. Raja's exit, to the loss in the elections, to Ms. Kanimozhi's arrest, to the investigation into Mr. Maran's role as Telecom Minister — were taking their toll: it looked, this leader said, that the Congress and the DMK would not be contesting local elections slated for October together. During the last set of local elections, they had contested together and swept the polls.

SP, BSP support

For the Congress, if the backing of the DMK becomes shaky, it will have to look to the 22-member Samajwadi Party and the 21-member Bahujan Samaj Party, which are now extending issue-based support to it. Given that the crucial Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are just a year away, the Congress cannot expect much more than outside support from these parties, making its situation somewhat tenuous.

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