After 3 years, DMK

After 3 years, DMK

Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-03-29 12:12 Chennai: Ideally, this is not a topic I would have inflicted on our readers as politics has become such a messy affair where in morality and the right and the wrong have become casualties to a large extent. But in election season, one cannot but help look and rue at the opportunism on display by the political parties, for whom winning is all that matters. If only three years ago, the DMK and the Congress found themselves fighting acrimoniously, enough to break off nine-year long ties, nine years of togetherness in government at the centre. All because of perceived problems faced by the family run regional political party - the DMK that found its partner's attitude not friendly. Its shock and dismay was over the absence of any help in its time of trouble -- 2G scam investigations that led to the door of the patriarch of the DMK, with his own daughter arrested and jailed in Tihar central jail. But all that is a thing of past, everything is forgotten and we are friends again -- that it cut to today, when the same Karunanidhi sat with senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to discuss numbers and strategies for joint fight in the May 16 assembly polls in Tamil Nadu. If anything, the relationship between the two political parties can be best described as long and troubled. A roller coaster ride that the Congress and the DMK are going through in their love-hate relationship and political journey in Tamil Nadu, where chemistry of alliances on the ground are more important than anything else. No strangers to each other – having worked together off and on since the early 70, the DMK and Congress tied up again in 1980, but failed to win assembly polls. The two had also worked together in 1996 and then in 2004 and 2009 too but had broken away in March 2013, two years after the humiliating loss in assembly elections where DMK ended up third after DMDK. But now, the two parties have together once again after three years to fight the May 2016 assembly elections, as in the present ground situation the DMK is desperate to cobble up an alliance that can turn electoral history into a reality – of knocking down the ruling government of AIADMK, going by the turns the two Dravidian parties have been taking in ruling the state since the 80s. At that time in 1980, both the DMK and the Congress contested half the number of seats each and tried to harm the partner rather than help it, in the process losing the elections. Today even though the DMK is virtually begging the regional parties for support, and failing, as shown by the disdain with which DMDK chief Captain Vijayakanth ignored Karunanidhi and dealt a crippling blow to his hopes. This, coming after Karunanidhi publicly declared Vijayakanth was about to board the DMK-Congress combine has shocked the DMK patriarch and thrown his party cadres into a state of despair, as they know it is an uphill task now. Another dry spell out of power, the DMK leadership knows would be very tough to hold the party together in the face of predatory moves by the other parties. For the Congress, which has shown no signs of revival in the state where it faced the ignominy of losing deposits in all but one of the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies last general elections, it has only peripheral interests in the state assembly elections. Its main objective is to rope in allies for the 2019 general elections. Already fissures between the two are visible as the DMK is unwilling to accommodate the Congress demand of large number of seats, especially after the Congress used every trick in the trade to force the DMK part with 63 seats in 2011 assembly elections, and lost badly. Why, the enforcement directorate officials visited the premises of DMK headquarters when Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was holding seat sharing negotiations with DMK leadership. The enforcement directorate officials were investigating Kalaiagnar TV, located in the same premises, and later forced Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal to appear in court in Delhi and also for questioning in connection with funds related to 2G spectrum scam. Moreover, at that time DMK cadres were protesting loudly and wanted the DMK to break out of the alliance then and there. But the leadership gave in and rest is history. DMK came third after DMDK with just 23 seats and Congress could win only 5 seats. The acrimonious relations only got bitter and bitter as 2G investigations led to Karunanidhi’s door eventually, after Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja. His daughter Kanimozhi was arrested and jailed for nearly one year till court granted her bail. Hearings are still going on in the case. The overriding feeling in DMK was that even after helping the Congress form the government in 2004 and 2009 and being its most dependable ally, the Congress that led the UPA government did nothing to help it during its time of trouble. Moreover, the UPA government’s Sri Lanka policy also put the DMK in a precarious position in Tamil Nadu where people held it responsible for the massacre of innocent Tamils during the final push against LTTE. Which is why, in 2013 March, the DMK pulled out of the UPA government and broke the alliance. In 2014 general elections to Lok Sabha, both fought separately and both drew a blank, as there was an anti-Congress wave against the Congress and 2G scam taint did the rest for the DMK. Ever since, the DMK has been trying hard, waiting patiently for the AIADMK government to run its course and present it with anti-incumbency issues to exploit. But all efforts by the DMK to consolidate the anti-AIADMK forces failed miserably, with a third force emerging to take on the two Dravidian parties. This development, DMDK and Peoples Welfare Front combine entering fray as a single entity, will only help AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa, which is why the DMK has become more desperate to rope in even smaller players. Karunanidhi has given 5 seats to a tiny Muslim party, which otherwise would have got a mere two seats. Congress is sure to apply pressure, but it remains to be seen if the DMK would now give in. So, the 2016 coming together is not making both the parties exactly jumping with joy, as for both there is absolutely no other alternative. No party is touching the Congress and neither is DMK been able to attract other parties. Working with the Congress is not new for DMK as it had a tie up with Mrs Indira Gandhi way back in 1971 or in 1980 or in 2011, both parties bargained hard for seats. In 1971, after Congress split the DMK tied up with Congress (ruling) of Indira Gandhi for both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections held simultaneously. It gave up claims on assembly seats completely. Later in 1980 general elections, the DMK Congress combine won 37 of the 39 seats, but trouble arose between them for assembly elections and later agreed to contest equal number of seats each. But Karunanidhi was named as the chief ministerial candidate by Mrs Gandhi. The alliance however did not win. In 1996, Congress broke and DMK tied with breakaway Congress led by GK Moopanar and in Lok Sabha elections did well to capture 20 seats as also captured power in Tamil Nadu. In 2001, it was the turn of AIADMK to come to power in the state. In 2004, the DMK and the Congress came together and swept the general elections to Lok Sabha. The same alliance continued in 2006 assembly elections and wrested power from AIADMK. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections too, both faced the electorate together and their front won 28 seats. But it was the seat negotiations for the 2011 assembly elections that saw friction between the two parties growing by leaps and bounds, with the Congress scaling up its demands. The Congress state leadership had another grouse – even though Karunanidhi enjoyed power at Centre, he refused to share power in the state and never allowed the Congress to join the government. This continued to be a sore point between the state rung Congress leaders that manifest itself in different ways. The DMK and the Congress have had a long but troubled, love-hate relationship going between them. At one stage, there was allegations that the DMK was somehow connected to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, which had also contributed to souring of relations between the two. But in 2004, when Vajpayee government had completed five years and Hindutva forces were on ascendency, to check them the Congress decided to tie up with the DMK again. When asked, Sonia Gandhi, who came down to Chennai for the tie up, told media persons that the Jain commission’s final report had cleared the DMK of any involvement in the case.