Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday morning is said to have telephoned Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam chief (DMDK) Vijayakanth to greet him on his 61st birthday — in what is seen as a new development that could signal fresh alignments in Tamil Nadu ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The move comes amid buzz that the Congress is working for a new alliance that will involve its old ally, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and also the DMDK.
Vijayakanth, however, sought to play down the possibility of a new alliance. "When the dates of the Lok Sabha polls are announced, we will tell you about our alliance, " he said in Chennai.
Two months ago, Vijayakanth was upset that five Congress MLAs had backed DMK chief Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi for a second term in the Rajya Sabha. He had sought the Congress' help to support his nominee AR Elangovan who lost out because of a rebellion by seven MLAs of his party who voted for the AIADMK.
Gandhi's phone call to Vijayakanth was seen as an attempt to put that episode behind and reach out to him.
Also, it also appeared to thwart the efforts of some DMDK leaders to reach out to the BJP because the Congress had not backed their party in the Rajya Sabha polls.
With Jayalalalithaa-led AIADMK eyeing a maximum number of the 39 Lok Sabha seats from Tamil Nadu, the Congress' interest in the DMDK stems from its pockets of influence in the state.
Congress strategists believe that an alliance comprising the DMK, the DMDK and the PMK can be a formidable challenge to Jayalalithaa's plans. A few days ago, Gandhi had apparently discussed the situation with Kanimozhi though he has never called on Karunanidhi.