The political version of Russian roulette is in full spin with the announcement of the assembly elections. The players, however, don’t seem content with the number on which the ball stops, asking the croupier to play on. So, as of now the alliance between the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) seems over in the state and delicately poised at the Centre. But then we cannot predict where the wheel will stop with the endless negotiations still on. The fact that the UPA is playing it cool about the DMK pulling out of the government suggests that it is not averse to distancing itself from a party that has single-handedly bought inglory to the government and to the prime minister himself. That the Congress cannot go it alone in the state elections is another matter but clearly it calculates that the DMK is not going to come up trumps either.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is all set to pose a stiff challenge to the DMK with its leader J Jayalalithaa having stitched up an alliance of 14 parties, among them the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), led by popular actor Vijayakanth, who garnered a staggering 8% of the vote in the last Lok Sabha elections. Though the CPI(M)’s Prakash Karat, an ally of the AIADMK in the state, has with his characteristic finesse, ruled out any alliance with the Congress, it remains to be seen whether the mercurial Jayalalithaa will concur. She had earlier offered support when the government was in hot water over the 2G spectrum scam. The UPA’s nonchalance could also be due to the Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav’s barely concealed attempts to declare the availability of his party with 22 seats in the Lok Sabha to join the government.
With the DMK ministers threatening to pull out, Mr Yadav who has been in the political wilderness for a while could be hoping for a nice berth or two, something the UPA might concede if push comes to shove. The Congress also clearly calculates on the anti-incumbency factor in Tamil Nadu as working against the DMK, which now seems hostage to the internecine turf wars among its leader M Karunanidhi’s wives, children and associates. For once the UPA seems to be looking beyond the numbers game. If it disassociates itself from the scam-tainted DMK now, it may suffer in the short-term. But come the next general elections, this may prove to be a game-changer in Tamil Nadu. It may lose in the first few games of roulette but eventually the white ball could stop at the number which will bring in the jackpot.