Pranab, Maran pull Cong-DMK ties from brink

  • Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, KV Lakshmana & Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times, New Delhi / Chennai
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  • Updated: Mar 08, 2011 02:08 IST

All it needed was a couple of phone calls from senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee on Monday to make the DMK soften its stand after 48 hours of uncertainties over their ties in the Tamil Nadu assembly polls.

According to the new possible formula, the DMK may agree to give away 63 seats to the Congress — a clear departure from its earlier stand of not giving more than 60.

Of the 63 on offer, 48 will be those that the Congress contested in 2005 as a DMK ally. But the PMK, which was given 31 seats earlier, would have to gift three seats to the Congress. The remaining 12 would be “sorted out in due course”, sources said.

What made DMK chief M Karunanidhi soften his stand? The entry of new negotiators, particularly Mukherjee, and union minister Dayanidhi Maran, who is the DMK patriarch’s grandnephew.

But there’s more to the smile on Karunanidhi’s face. Just as the DMK leaders thought going it alone would help the AIADMK-led front, a section of the Congress believed that breaking alliance for three seats was not an intelligent strategy to follow.

All this was happening when six DMK ministers arrived in Delhi with resignation letters to be submitted to PM Manmohan Singh. But Mukherjee called Karunanidhi, seeking one more day to resolve the issue. And Karunanidhi obliged.
All this was happening when six DMK ministers arrived in Delhi with resignation letters . For, the DMK decided on Saturday to pull out of the UPA government.

Monday began with Mukherjee holding a series of meetings with Maran, followed by discussions with Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who finally gave the go-ahead for a fresh look at the issue.

By late evening, DMK ministers MK Alagiri and Dayanidhi Maran delivered a message from Karunanidhi to Gandhi. Soon after, the DMK said its decision to withdraw was on hold.

Meanwhile, the DMK leadership started looking relaxed. A smiling Karunanidhi's younger son, MK Stalin, revealed the first signs of improvements in the situation.

“The Congress has asked for a day's time,” he said, adding that a final decision would be announced by Tuesday evening.


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