The Congress-Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) relationship has been a troubled one, ever since the 2G scam broke, investigations began and Union Telecom Minister A Raja was asked to quit the cabinet. But the naming on Monday by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of DMK chief M. Karunanidhi's daughter, Kanimozhi, as a co-conspirator with Mr. Raja, in the 2G scam could just widen the rift.

However, senior Congress functionaries here, putting a brave face on the matter, said that the “political realities” would ensure that there was no change in the equation. Indeed, they say, regardless of the results of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, to be announced on May 13, the alliance between the two parties will continue. “The political realities have not changed,” a party functionary said, stressing, “I don't think there will be any political fallout.”

A Congress Working Committee (CWC) member pointed out that the DMK's 18 MPs at the Centre were crucial to the good health of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) – it would make little sense to exchange that for the Jayalalithaa-led All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK), which has just nine MPs in the Lok Sabha.

The Congress, party sources said, is hoping that the DMK, regardless of the election results, will also see wisdom in sticking with the Congress, as a relationship of dependency with the national party could be of greater use as investigations proceed in the 2G scam. Not having any equation at all would make the DMK that much more vulnerable, Congress sources stressed.

The Congress realises that if the DMK-led combine were to return to power, the latter's leverage vis a vis Delhi would increase. But, if the DMK loses, it will not only have to deal with a hostile AIADMK

government in Chennai, but a Congress talking to it from a position of strength at the Centre.

Officially, of course, the Congress says it has “no control” over the CBI's investigations in the 2G scam case. “The government has no role or control in the 2G scam case,” party spokesperson Manish Tewari said here, adding, “the CBI is going by its appreciation of the matter.”

For the Congress, how it is seen to be dealing with corruption has become a tricky issue, as it copes with the string of scams – from the Commonwealth Games to 2G to the Adarsh Society affair — and now to the controversy over the framing of the Lokpal Bill. Any apparent soft-pedalling in the 2 G scam would invite its own backlash politically.

At the same time, the party is not keen to fiddle with the status quo as far as the composition of the UPA is concerned. As things stand, if the Trinamool Congress coasts to a victory on its own in the West Bengal Assembly elections, the Congress is worried it may not be invited to join the government there.

If local Congressmen would like to share the spoils of power, for the party's national leadership, it is the Trinamool's 19 MPs that are crucial for the stability of the UPA, as is the DMK's band of 18 MPs.