Efforts on to persuade DMK to withdraw its decision to pull out
Since Saturday night when the DMK announced its decision to walk out of the UPA government at the Centre and end its 7-year alliance with the Congress in Tamil Nadu, the big question is whether it would finally carry out its threat amid reports of possible efforts to persuade it to withdraw its threat.
For the record, the DMK has been maintaining that on Monday, its ministers would reach Delhi and resign formally after meeting the prime minister Manmohan Singh. But, at the same time, the DMK left the door open for reconciliation, but wants the Congress to make the first definitive move towards reaching an amicable solution.
There are unconfirmed reports of the arrival of Congress bigwigs -- Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and union health minister and AICC Tamil Nadu incharge Ghulam Nabi Azad to talk to an upset Karunanidhi and persuade him to withdraw threat of walking out of the UPA coalition government at the Centre. As also to agree to continuing the alliance in Tamil Nadu.
However, officially, the Congress sources here denied any knowledge.
DMK sources are saying that they have already said what they had to, of withdrawing from UPA and snapping electoral alliance with the Congress unless it becomes reasonable in its demand and comes up with a modified demand that is just and fair.
"The negotiations also have to be fair and practical," said a senior DMK leader requesting not to be quoted by name.
The DMK sources said if the demand is for 60 and the Congress does not insist on particular seats, and it makes the first move, the DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu chief minister would be agreeable to review the decision.
From early morning media persons camped outside the Gopalapuram residence of Karunanidhi and made rounds of the DMK headquarters for any developing news, but had to rest content with the word that the party was awaiting any firm move from the Congress.
The union finance minister would also be concerned over the ongoing budget session that has a spate of money bills to be passed in the parliament and would like to have the DMK, which has been part of the government since 2004, to stay on board.
However, officially, the Congress sources here are refraining from making any statement either on the DMK's decision or of the Congress leadership's moves at this juncture.
Meanwhile, the ccamp is going ahead with its seat sharing agreements with its allies and on Sunday the principal opposition party in Tamil Nadu is expected to finalise its agreement with the Left parties. The AIADMK, which is sitting pretty after finalising one its most key alliances with film actor turned politician Vijayakant, is said to be rushing to meet the early poll deadline imposed by the election commission.
However, the AIADMK is also watching the developing DMK-Congress story with keen interest and would like to see whether there is any possibility for realignment of political forces in Tamil Nadu in the near future.
In November, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa had extended an offer to the Congress to extend it support in parliament and also get some friendly parties on board to make up for the deficit, if the Congress dumped a "corrupt" DMK.
But now in the altered scenario, it remains to be seen if the Congress drifts apart from the DMK and seeks other alternatives or goes it alone in the State.
For the Congress, though, the stakes are not that high in Tamil Nadu for the present and its concentration is more on safeguarding the government at the Centre. Political observers here are of the opinion that eventually the Congress would come around to accpeting the DMK view on seat sharing and agree to carry on the alliance.
Though, the acrimony between the two parties on this issue would have its negative impact on the chemistry between the cadres of the two parties on the ground when campaigning picks up.