A day after the DMK announced its withdrawal from the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre, the rift between the two widened as both parties hardened their positions against a rapprochement on Sunday.
The DMK also called off its alliance with the Congress in Tamil Nadu, which goes to polls on April 13. The parties have been allies since 2004 and DMK has 18 members in Lok Sabha.
"Our silence is our answer," a Congress strategist said on a day when DMK sources in Chennai had been expecting a messenger or at least a phone call from the Congress high command. There was no phone call between the parties and by the evening the DMK perhaps realised that its brinkmanship had pushed the alliance over the top.
"There has been no contact with the Congress since our decision… the number of seats was not the only reason for the parting of ways," said DMK president and Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi.
Party leader TR Baalu said DMK ministers would reach Delhi on Monday and submit their resignations though Congress sources said they have no official communication from the DMK on this. The DMK has two cabinet ministers and four ministers of state at the centre.
"It's the DMK’s loss. We were never in the government in Tamil Nadu. We will not take any initiative for a rapprochement. We are ready to go it alone,” a Congress leader said. The DMK has been running a minority government in Tamil Nadu since 2006 with the outside support of the Congress.
In Chennai, the DMK’s rival AIADMK kept its seat-sharing talks with the Left in suspension, prompting speculation of an alliance with the Congress.
The AIADMK-Left agreement was to be announced on Sunday. "The call from Jayalalitha did not come," said a Left leader. If the Congress joins the AIADMK, the Left will be pushed out.
AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa had in November 2010 offered to support the Congress in the Lok Sabha if it were to dump a "corrupt DMK". The AIADMK has nine MPs in the Lok Sabha. However, sources in the Congress said an alliance with the AIADMK was unlikely. While the DMK maintained that if the Congress scales down its demand for seats — the party is demanding 63 seats of its choice — a reunion is possible. But the Congress ruled out such a possibility.
"The DMK has to retreat. That's the only solution and we know it is distant," a Congress source said. Party sources said they are cut up with the way the DMK went ahead and announced its decision to call off the alliance. "They have been taking us for granted all this while. Not any more," said a Congress leader.
He said the agreement on 60 seats had not been concluded and party interlocutor Ghulam Nabi Azad had told Karunanidhi that he would revert after consulting party leaders in Delhi.