DMK somersault

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) successful move to get the support of the Congress  for its candidate in the forthcoming Rajya Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu has made a mockery of its dramatic exit from the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) at the Centre just three months ago. Its stated justification for severing association with the nine-year-old coalition was the Manmohan Singh government’s alleged soft-pedalling of the Tamil human rights issue in Sri Lanka.

The Dravidian party wanted the Indian government to take a strong anti-Sri Lanka position at the annual meeting of the UN Human Rights Council at Geneva. Nothing has changed on the Sri Lankan front between March, when the DMK withdrew from the ruling coalition, and now. If the DMK’s decision to walk out of the alliance was based on a principled stand on an issue which is dear to the party’s policies and programme then it had no case to return to the Congress, which heads the UPA.

But for our political parties principles are more a matter of convenience. What they are adept at is the politics of opportunism. The DMK has turned to the Congress just to ensure the support of Congress legislators in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly for its candidate for the Rajya Sabha Kanimozhi, who is party supremo M Karunanidhi’s daughter. On its own, the DMK lacks the numbers required in the assembly to ensure victory for its VIP candidate.

It is not as though the Congress, on its part, is in any position to rebuff its estranged ally from the South. With parliamentary elections just 10 months away, the party desperately requires a partner in Tamil Nadu to bolster its electoral prospects. Thus, it stands to reason to believe reports that the party had put some conditions before agreeing to back Kanimozhi. One of them is that the DMK would agree to team with the party for the Lok Sabha elections. Ahead of the elections, the Congress would also want the DMK to support some of UPA’s crucial legislative bills in parliament, including the food security bill. The prospect of resurrecting the DMK-Congress alliance simply goes on to show that foreign policy issues cannot be a reason to wage partisan political battles at home. Karunanidhi’s son M K Alagiri, who was a cabinet minister in the UPA government, must be wondering now if he should have at all quit the ministry – a decision which he had very reluctantly taken in March.

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