BY BOSCO CELESTINE
When Chennai sneezes, New Delhi catches cold. The recent Raja affair is testimony to this. Politics in Tamil Nadu has always has had profound impact on the Centre.
This is not a recent development, the love-hate relationship goes back to hoary days of single party rule, the Congress Party had enjoyed since independence in the Southern State.
It has not come as a surprise to none when K Kamaraj hand-picked by world-class leader like Jawaharlal Nehru to head the Party when it was riddled by inner party dissensions.
Tamil Nadu always had half-a-dozen Congress stalwarts representing the State in the Union Cabinet. This is one of the reasons that the state had witnessed al-round socio-economic change over the years.
This trend continues even today. Ageing Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has proved to be a tried and trusted ally whether he is supporting National Democratic Alliance led by Atal Behari Vajpayee earlier or the United Progressive Alliance led by Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Moreover, Sonia Gandhi has had perfect working relationship with Karunanidhi starting run-up to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. After speaking to DMK Chief personally, she assigned a senior congress leader of Karnunanidh choice to firm up the electoral arrangement. The DMK-Congress Alliance secured 18 seats for the former in the 14th Lok Sabha. This helped inflicted a shock electoral defeat of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
But this time around, 2G-Spectrum scam posed a serious threat to the continuance of the Alliance. Congress not only forced Raja to go from the government, it also snatched away one of the important portfolio from the DMK. At a time when DMK was thinking of substitute A Raja, the prime minister allotted the high profile IT ministry to a congress leader Kapil Sibal.
These episodes have surely strained the relationship between congress and the DMK. But the DMK can not even think of parting away from the congress at this moment.
The break-up of the Alliance would harm the DMK more at the State level than the Congress rule at the centre. DMK with 18 seats is supporting UPA while Congress with 36 seats in the Assembly has given stability to Karnunidhi’s government in the State.
With Elections to the 234-member Asssembly elections due in May next year, Mr Karunandihi can ill-afford to lose Congress support at this stage with Jayalalitha breathing down his neck.
Jayalalitha’s offer of nine-member support through an electronic channel in case DMK withdraws support on the Raja issue is a well-calculated move.
Jayalalitha is not so much keen on saving the Congress-led UPA in New Delhi. It is more to do with revival of political fortunes in Tamil Nadu.
The AIADMK chief knows fully well that the next years Assembly elections are the last chance for her party to stay alive in the state. Therefore, she is desperate because the cadre is getting restless without power for the last six years and looking to upto her for a change to get them political power.
But can she? This is a very big question given the mood of the people of the state clamouring for a change from the Dravidian parties who have been ruling since 1967.