Amid speculation over an impending Union Cabinet reshuffle early next week, Finance Minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday met DMK chief M. Karunanidhi in the backdrop of the exit of Dayanidhi Maran from the UPA government over the 2G scam.
Mr. Mukherjee is meeting the DMK patriarch apparently to know about the party’s choice for replacements for Mr. Maran and Mr. A. Raja, who had earlier quit over the scam. At present, the UPA’s key regional ally has only one representation in the cabinet – M.K. Alagiri, son of Karunanidhi.
This is the first high level meeting between Congress and the DMK in recent weeks after Mr. Karunanidhi’s daughter Ms. Kanimozhi was arrested over the 2G spectrum allocation scam that has left the DMK patriarch sulking.
Mr. Karunanidhi, who recently met Ms. Kanimozhi in the Tihar jail for the second time, skipped the second anniversary celebrations of the UPA government, choosing to depute former minister T.R. Baalu. He also did not meet Sonia Gandhi, indicating the growing strains between the two allies.
For the record, Mr. Baalu, the DMK Parliamentary party leader, indicated the party was not in a hurry and would not seek any replacements for the time being for Mr. Maran and Mr. Raja.
Before Mr. Mukherjee arrived at Mr. Karunanidhi’s residence, Mr. Maran met Mr. Karunanidhi for the second time since his arrival from Delhi on Friday night, when he briefed him about the developments surrounding his resignation.
Mr. Maran’s exit comes at a time when the ties between Congress and DMK are under strain and reports said Mr. Mukherjee’s visit here was also to “assuage” the feelings of Mr. Karunanidhi, particularly over the arrest of Ms. Kanimozhi.
Mr. Maran quit the Cabinet a day after the CBI told the Supreme Court that he had ‘forced’ telecom promoter C. Sivasankaran to sell his company Aircel to a Malaysian firm when he was the Telecom minister in 2006.