Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K S Alagiri, whose recent statement that the DMK had violated alliance dharma by giving a raw deal to his party in the recent local body elections led to angry reaction, met DMK president M K Stalin at Anna Arivalayam on Saturday and patched up with him.
Talking to reporters later, Alagiri played down the polemical exchanges as “ healthy debate between two ideologically united parties”. He said the Congress-DMK alliance would continue even beyond the next Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
Alagiri’s statement led to the DMK boycotting a meeting called by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi to evolve a joint strategy among secular parties on fight against CItizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Senior DMK leader Durai Murugan said the Congress was welcome to leave the alliance as it was a needless burden on his party, Senior Congress leader Karti Chidambaram retorted that the DMK won the Vellore Lok Sabha by-election by a very narrow margin and it might even have lost it but for the Congress support.
Alagiri brushed all these exchanges as healthy debates . Asked if the Congress was ready to go it alone, he said” no party in India can afford to win on its own”.
On the boycott by the DMK of Delhi meeting, he said “We are united in our opposition to the CAA and the NRC and we both voted against the bill in Parliament”
The AIADMK, which voted for the citizenship bill in the Rajya Sabha and which did not have the guts to speak against it for fear of offending the BJP, had no right to comment on the DMK-Congress rift, he said.
Reacting to Makkal Neethi Maiam leader and actor Kamal Haasan’s comment that he predicted the rift long ago, Alagiri said Kamal was cozying up to the BJP by saying he would like to work closely with Rajini Kanth.
Alagiri however soft-pedalled the comment by Rajini at the Thuglak 50th year celebrations that the magazine founded by satirist Cho S Ramaswamy “is read by the educated middle class unlike the Murasoli which is the official organ of the DMK”. Alagiri said that Rajini was used to saying only scripted dialogues and he might have made such indiscreet remarks off the cuff.
The whole rift was caused by the DMK making a big issue of it, big enough for it to stay away from a national level meeting of opposition on CAA.
Stalin made it a big issue despite Alagiri retracting his statement on the advice of his mentor and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram.
In trying to crush the Congress, Stalin has chosen to follow the line of his father and DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi who refused to share power with Congress even when his party failed to get a majority in 2006 and led a minority Government which lasted till 2011. The cruel irony was that during this period the DMK was a major partner of the UPA in which it held plum posts.
This was because Sonia Gandhi needed Karunanidhi at national level. The situation is now different as Rahul Gandhi has always had an imperfect equation with the DMK since the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in Tamil Nadu soil thanks to patronage extended by Karunanidhi during his rule from 1989 to 91 to the LTTE.
It was Sonia who revived the alliance in 2004 and Karunanidhi helped the alliance sweep the polls, which enabled the Congress to come back to power. karunanidhi ditched the Congress in 2014 after enjoying power in UPA for ten years.
It was the Congress-DMK breakup which helped AIADMK leader J Jayalalitha to secure a second consecutive term in 2016.
It was Stalin who revived the alliance after he became DMK leader in place of ailing Karunanidhi. It helped him win 89. But the poor strike rate of the Congress's helped Jayalalitha secure a second term.
The AIADMK, even without Jayalalitha, made mince meat of the Congress in the just concluded local body elections.
Stalin does not want a repeat of that experience in 2021 as it may be his last chance to come to power. Hence the need to put Congress in its place .