The DMK's future in the United Progressive Alliance looked grim on Thursday, with Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran resigning from the Cabinet.
Charges of wrongdoing in the telecom sector have claimed the second scalp of the party. Last year, A. Raja was forced to quit the Ministry in the wake of allegations of his involvement in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
Mr. Maran, sources in the government said, submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, soon after what turned out to be his last Cabinet meeting. The resignation comes in the wake of the CBI submitting a status report to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, alleging that he forced telecom promoter C. Sivasankaran, at the time he was IT and Communications Minister, to sell his Aircel stake to the Malaysia-based Maxis group.
The sources said the resignation followed a conversation Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had with DMK leader in the Lok Sabha T.R. Baalu, who conveyed his message to DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi who, in turn, is said to have advised Mr. Maran to put in his papers.
Mr. Maran left the Cabinet meeting early, citing a conflict of interest when the private FM issue came up for discussion. After the meeting, Dr. Singh had confabulations with senior Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and M. Veerappa Moily.
Attorney-General G. E. Vahanvati was also called in for discussion. The meeting was called to study the CBI's status report.
Soon after the meeting, Mr. Maran arrived at 7, Race Course Road. When he left shortly afterwards, the red light on his personal Mercedes was switched off.
There was, however, no official confirmation of the acceptance of the resignation as President Pratibha Patil was away in Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mukherjee may visit Chennai on Saturday in connection with an official meeting. The sources said he could use the occasion to meet Mr. Karunanidhi.
The Congress maintained a studied silence on the resignation, with some leaders privately saying the media was driving the course of events. Officially, party spokesperson Manish Tewari hit out at the Opposition: “I think that those who on a daily basis give lectures on morality should look within and introspect before opening their mouths and putting both their feet into it,” he said, adding, “If at all anything has to be said about the sequence of events...it is for the government to do so.”