A surprise congratulatory phone call from Congress president Sonia Gandhi to AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa on Saturday night, the first formal conversation between the two leaders after 12 years, is bound to rattle a vanquished DMK.
Gandhi’s call on Jayalalithaa's splendid victory in the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu is being seen in political circles as an attempt by the Congress to reach out to the AIADMK while giving a clear signal to the DMK to “behave properly” if it wants to continue in the UPA alliance at the Centre."The Congress is unwilling to take tantrums from the DMK any more. The southern party had threatened to pull its ministers out of the UPA government after a bitter tussle over seat sharing for the assembly polls in Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa confirmed having received the call from Gandhi. "I received a call from Sonia, she congratulated me," she said in Chennai after meeting Tamil Nadu governor Surjit Singh Barnala to stake her claim to form the government.
Referring to Gandhi’s call to Jayalalithaa, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said the Congress president has congratulated everyone who won the polls.
This is not the first time Gandhi has reached out to Opposition leaders. She had called Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar when he won a second term in office last year. “In a democracy it is a healthy trend,” Natarajan said on Sunday. Though Congress and DMK leaders sought to downplay Gandhi’s gesture, DMK insiders and AIADMK leaders read “deep” meanings and a message for the DMK.
They said the Congress could begin to look for ways to distance itself from the DMK to wipe some of the 2G spectrum scam dirt off. They said the call could well be the first step towards dumping of the DMK, which had immensely damaged the image of the UPA and the Congress because of the 2G scam, in which DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s family got entangled, besides ex-telecom minister A Raja.
Last September, when the 2G scam broke out, Jayalalithaa had expressed readiness to join hands with the Congress if it dumped the DMK, which has 18 Lok Sabha MPs, and secure the required numbers for the UPA.
Though the AIADMK has nine MPs in the LS, Jayalalithaa had told the Conagress that she could have offset the loss of the DMK’s support by mobilising the numbers by roping in the support of other parties.
The Congress then said the DMK remained its ally and “a bird in hand was worth more than two in the bush”.