Effective lobbying by DMK leaders, particularly its Parliamentary party leader T.R. Baalu, changed the fortunes in favour of Kanimozhi in what was a confusing Rajya Sabha election scene in Tamil Nadu.
Congress circles said the party high command was initially favourably disposed towards the DMDK, as the DMK had already parted ways with the UPA. However, it changed its position in the interest of a future alliance in the Lok Sabha polls due next year in the hope of boosting floor support in Parliament for the passage of the Land Acquisition Bill and the Food Security Bill, party sources said. The DMK has 18 MPs in the Lok sabha and five MPs in Rajya Sabha.
Though the Congress high command was unhappy with the way the DMK pulled out of the alliance, without waiting for a reply from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on adopting a resolution in Parliament on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, its leaders took into consideration the fact that the DMK was a reliable ally for nine years.
“They stood by us during periods of crisis and said they would not be against the government on the issue of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail sector. They voted for Congress candidate Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential elections while Mr. Vijayakant abstained from that election,” said a senior Congress leader.
The Congress’ decision will be a great disappointment to DMDK leader Vijayakant and his party MLAs as the party fielded a candidate for the Rajya Sabha poll only after getting an informal commitment of support from the Congress leadership. However, Mr. Vijayakant may not have much reason to complain, as there is hardly any meeting point between the two parties.
The actor-politician was sharply critical of the UPA government, and while announcing the boycott of the Presidential election, he accused the Centre of failing to secure justice for Tamil Naduon various issues, including inter-State river water disputes. He had said who the country’s President would be was irrelevant to Tamils when their problems remained unsolved, arguing that boycotting the Presidential poll would be a great service to Tamil Nadu.
Mr. Vijayakant had earlier charged the UPA government with co-operating with the Sri Lankan government in the war against the Tamils. A strong advocate of inter-linking of rivers, he had blamed the Centre for remaining a stumbling block to the project, citing environmental issues.
Sections of the Congress understand that the DMDK, too, is a potential ally for the Lok Sabha poll.
Going by previous election results, the DMDK has over eight per cent of the popular vote and the Congress around five. The combination is hardly enough to secure seats in a State where the two major parties – the AIADMK and DMK – dominate the election scene.
In fact, some senior Congress leaders from Tamil Nadu advocated an alliance with the DMDK and sought to persuade the high command to support it in the Rajya Sabha polls. But the leadership took into consideration other factors.