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A courtesy call that led to patch-up

It was supposed to be a courtesy farewell call by a DMK minister. But it appears to have set the ball rolling for back-room parleys that led to the resolution of the Congress-DMK crisis over seat-sharing. Shekhar Iyer reports.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2011 01:58 IST
Shekhar Iyer

It was supposed to be a courtesy farewell call by a DMK minister. But it appears to have set the ball rolling for back-room parleys that led to the resolution of the Congress-DMK crisis over seat-sharing.

MoS for finance SS Palanimanickam, the only DMK minister who has held his portfolio for the last 7 years, wanted to thank finance minister Pranab Mukherjee before he and five other party ministers were to hand their resignation.

DMK sources said Palanimanickam was in for surprise as an emotional Mukherjee went down the memory lane.

"Do you know that I know Karunanidhiji from the day he was sworn in first time as Tamil Nadu chief minister in 1969? I was deputed by Ajoy Mukherjee, then Bangla

Congress leader, to attend the ceremony?" Mukherjee said. "Why should things come to such a pass.... Is there not a way out of this?"

As Mukherjee lamented on ways of coalition politics today and the passing away of older generation of leadership, Palanimanickam too got emotional, saying that "we didn't want to end this way, sir."

At this point, Mukherjee wanted Palanimanickam to request Karunanidhi's eldest son MK Alagiri to come to his room. Within a few minutes, Alagiri was in his chamber. He called Dayanidhi Maran to join them. "Thus began the first of the series of parleys," said a DMK official.

More parleys followed and a "dexterous" Dayanidhi did his bit. Much to the surprise of other DMK ministers, Dayanidhi showed how his access at 10, Janpath was still intact.

Ironically, Dayanidhi had been barred by Karunanidhi from any official dealing with the Congress after he and brother Kalanidhi earned Alagiri's wrath when their newspaper published a survey in 2007. The survey said Stalin and Dayanidhi were more popular leaders than Alagiri.

That episode led to A Raja replacing Dayanidhi in the telecom ministry. But the last two days, Dayanidhi, who worked under Alagiri's "orders", did the background work to sew up the deal. "But with able English speaking ability and affable manners, Dayanidhi showed us how easily he can interact with top Congress leaders," the official said.