Question is whether any party is keen on joining hands with them

The DMK’s decision to quit the Congress-led UPA alliance will inevitably lead to political realignment in Tamil Nadu, but a moot question is whether there is any party that is keen on joining hands either with the DMK or the Congress.

The DMK’s exit from the UPA is primarily the offshoot of fears that further association with the Congress could jeopardise its electoral fortunes. Ever since it became clear that mass civilian casualties marked the last days of Sri Lanka’s war against the LTTE, the DMK had to bear the brunt of opposition criticism that it stood by and watched as a member of the UPA regime and did nothing to prevent civilian deaths.

The upcoming vote in the UN Human Rights Council was seen by the party as an opportunity to redeem its image by getting India to back a tough resolution that calls for an independent international probe into genocide and war crimes, rather than a tame one that merely encouraged Sri Lanka to take expert external advice on probing such incidents.

Once it realised that the Congress was not fully in sync with this objective, the DMK had to use it as an opportunity to leave the alliance, lest it be saddled with the national party in the next Lok Sabha polls.

DMK president M. Karunanidhi had justified remaining on the same page as the Congress by raising the possibility that “communal forces” would gain by the DMK’s exit. Asked about this now, he said: “I can’t be held responsible for such a situation.” The DMK now has to look for allies elsewhere in the hope that it has sufficiently redeemed its image to make new friends.

The focus will then be on the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) led by actor Vijayakant. The DMK and the Congress are seen as vying with each other to woo the actor-turned-politician to bring his party to their fold. But Mr. Vijayakant is keeping his cards close to his chest.

In the past, in a completely different context, AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa had shown interest in an alliance with the Congress. Before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, she openly invited the Congress to face the election in the AIADMK’s company. Later, when the 2G spectrum allocation scandal was at its peak, she asked the Congress to dump the DMK and offered to provide enough numbers to make up for the loss of the support of DMK MPs.

However, it is doubtful whether she would show the same enthusiasm in a tie-up with the Congress, given the current mood in the State.

Unenviable position

The Congress finds itself in an unenviable position: it may not be any better placed than the BJP in Tamil Nadu when it comes to potential allies. Mr. Karunanidhi has always preferred an alliance with the Left parties. The two Left parties also have found themselves comfortable in the DMK’s company, but the DMK’s relationship with the Congress forced the Left leaders to leave the DMK. Perhaps, distancing itself from the Congress may help the DMK regain Left allies.

While Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) is already with the DMK, the alliance potential of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) has gone up a notch higher.

“Social engineering”

However, PMK leader S. Ramadoss made it clear he was more interested in “social engineering” and sought to project his party as an alternative to the Dravidian rule in the State.

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