Over the past 43 years the Congress has been an appendage of either of the two Dravidian parties of Tamil Nadu. Now it is in a position to come out of the closet and act from a position of strength.
Party president Sonia Gandhi has urged the Youth Congress to broadbase the organisation with a mass mobilisation programme. General secretary Rahul Gandhi’s rally will take place in Chennai later this month.
The Congress is now wooed by both the DMK and the AIADMK — for their political survival.
Though the alliance with the DMK stays intact for now, the ruling party of Tamil Nadu needs the Congress more than the Congress needs it.
The reasons are not far to seek. Despite its relatively small vote share — less than 15% — the Congress has emerged kingmaker in the state, with the electoral arithmetic more becoming more important than ideology.
And the vote share of the party is spread evenly in the state. With its tie-up with the DMK in 2006, the party won 34 of the 48 it contested (in an assembly that has 234 members). The DMK won 99 seats, with a 24% vote share.
The AIADMK had 57 seats though its vote share was nearly 30%.
“This makes it difficult for anyone to ignore the Congress,” says P Kanakaraj, who teaches political science in Government Arts College, Coimbatore.
“Today’s situation presents the Congress with an opportunity to get back in power, but in instalments. First it ought to make a pitch for a share in government,” he says.
Veteran Congressman and former union textiles minister EVKS Elangovan agrees. “What is the use of supporting and working for the victory of an alliance and then get ignored by the ruling party,” he asks.