With the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M. Karunanidhi’s announcement that his party would not align with either of the principal national parties – the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — , the hope of revival of the ties between the DMK and the Congress, caused by the Rajya Sabha elections in June, is now dashed.  

Though the DMK walked out of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue in March, it did seek the Congress support three months later when the party’s nominee and Mr. Karunanidhi’s daughter, Kanimozhi, was fielded again in the Rajya Sabha polls. Eventually, Ms. Kanimozhi was elected to the Upper House with the help of five Congress Members of Legislative Assembly and some others. This had created an impression that the ties would last till the Lok Sabha elections.  

But, this had been erased by the DMK leader’s announcement. Besides, the development has taken place when the Congress is widely perceived to be constrained by a strong anti-incumbency feeling at the all-India level. This was evident from the way the party performed in the Assembly elections to four northern States, especially in Delhi where it had been in power for 15 years.

But, if one were to look at the sequence of events concerning the DMK-Congress alliance in the last few years, it was quite clear that the relationship had been going through a lean phase. In March 2011, the DMK had even threatened to pull out its Ministers from the Union Cabinet when the Congress had adopted a tough posture in the seat-sharing talks for the Tamil Nadu Assembly polls. Though the two parties subsequently patched up, they had performed miserably. The DMK got 23 seats and the Congress five. For the local bodies’ polls in October 2011, the two parties fell apart.  Yet, the DMK remained part of the UPA government till March this year.

 After the Rajya Sabha elections in June, the DMK had supported the UPA government on the National Food Security Bill and ensured the passage of the Bill in Parliament a few months later.  Even as this went on, the feeling among the DMK was that the State unit of the Congress had been keeping the DMK at an arm’s distance.  When the DMK sought the Congress’ support for the Yercaud by-election, the Congress remained indifferent. Also, in the finalisation of the Joint Parliamentary Committee report on the 2G spectrum allocation issue, the DMK was left high and dry.

It was against this backdrop that the articulation by some members at the DMK general council in Chennai on Sunday that the party could do well without the support of the Congress or some others in the Yercaud by-election gained currency.  What had not gone unnoticed was that even in the absence of support from most of its erstwhile allies, the DMK’s nominee got about 30 per cent of votes polled in Yercaud.

As most of the general council members expressed themselves against aligning with the BJP and the Congress, the DMK does not have many options, except attempting to strike a deal with the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK).  As of now, there are no visible signs of the DMDK going along with the DMK.  

The possibility of the DMK roping in the MDMK and the Pattali Makkal Katchi is ruled out as these two parties are likely to align with the BJP.

(With inputs from B. Kolappan)

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