The DMK threat to pull out from the UPA government over petrol price hike had the Centre in a tizzy for a few hours on Wednesday.
But party chief M Karunanidhi followed it up with his by-now customary U-turn, claiming he never issued a threat and accused the media of misquoting him.
On Wednesday morning, Karunanidhi had addressed a demonstration against petrol price hike, during which, he issued a veiled threat to pull out of the UPA if there was no rollback of the decision.
"I don't want to create a crisis at the time of Presidential elections," he said later. "If we pull out now, it will just help non-secular forces. Even if the hike is not rolled back, we will continue in the government with bitterness."
Taking a stance and backtracking is not new to Karunanidhi.
Even at the time of allocation of portfolios to DMK ministers, he had resorted to pressure tactics. In 2008, on the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils, the entire DMK contingent in Lok Sabha submitted resignations to Karunanidhi, who sat on a fast at Marina Beach. Later, following Centre's assurance of action, the hunger strike and the resignations were withdrawn.
But after daughter Kanimozhi got embroiled in the 2G scam, the DMK patriarch had no option but to go along with the Congress. Result — an inevitable backtracking after the usual sound and fury.
The last instance was a few weeks ago, when over the issue of US-backed resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN, DMK had all but readied a resolution to pull out of the UPA. Then, at the eleventh hour, Karunanidhi backed out.
"A classic case of willing to bite but afraid to hurt," was how a senior ADMK leader described the plight of the DMK chief. "He and his party would want to hurt the Congress. But only a helpful Centre can protect Karunanidhi and his clan."