The Congress’ ties with the DMK in the assembly poll-bound Tamil Nadu have begun to look up. It began with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s January 3 declaration in Chennai that the Congress alliance was “strong as ever” and, now, both sides agree that their chemistry has vastly improved.
The PM had met Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi, first time since former telecom minister A Raja resigned over the 2G spectrum row. It had ended uncertainty that had creeped into the ties, particularly after the CBI conducted raids in Chennai to trace money trail in the 2G scam.
Interestingly, AIADMK chief Jayalalitha, who was looking hopeful of a tie-up with the Congress because of local Congressmen’s mood, has realised that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi won’t give up on Karunanidhi now.
Consequently, Jayalalithaa has, for the first time, attacked both the Congress and DMK, saying they are a dangerous combine, "which is going to woo the voters with their loot in various scams, including the 2G spectrum."
She saw, of course, a political timing in the PM’s support for the DMK, which was followed by telecom minister Kapil Sibal debunking the CAG findings on the 2G spectrum -- when its findings had led to Raja’s resignation.
A day ago, Karunanidhi reciprocated the Congress’ friendly jestures by renaming a 347-year-old landmark in Chennai, the Government General Hospital, after Rajiv Gandhi.
The Congress leaders in Tamil Nadu have long been demanding that the hospital be named after the former prime minister because his remains was brought there in May 1991 after he was killed in Sriperumbudur by a woman bomber. Later his remains were flown to Delhi for cremation.
Significantly, Karunanidhi’s announcement in the state assembly was greeted by senior Congress leader Peter Alphonse thanked him on behalf of AICC president Sonia Gandhi.
Later TNCC president, KV Thangkabalu also thanked the chief minister for fulfilling a long pending demand. A few Congress leaders distributed sweets to the public in front of the hospital. Even a known DMK baiter, former Union minister E V K Elangovan welcomed Karunanidhi's announcement.
On his part, Karunanidhi is looking forward to a presidential notification and an announcement from the Election Commission about the revival of the Upper House in Tamil Nadu after a gap of 24 years. The DMK chief wants the outgoing state assembly, whose term ends in May next year, to elect new council members before the elections are held. That will ensure that enough DMK men and women make it to the Upper House.
As early as May last year, President Pratibha Patil had given assent to Parliament legislation for revival of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council. The UPA government had fast tracked Karunanidhi’s plea for early action on bringing back the Upper House. The state Assembly had passed a resolution in April last year, seeking the revival of the Council, which was abolished during the MGR regime in 1986. The council came up first in 1937.
The revived council will have 78 members, 12 of them nominated by the Governor. The assembly will elect 26 members in the council and an equal number will be chosen by the local bodies such as municipalities, panchayat union councils, cantonment boar-ds and district panchayats.