Chennai, Sept. 1: Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have sent out signals to the DMK and the DMDK to forge a formidable alliance in Tamil Nadu, aiming for a hat-trick of Lok Sabha victories since 2004 from the state.
In the past, the Congress used to let the DMK handle the nuts and bolts of cobbling up an alliance, taking an interest only in the number of seats it would get in a DMK-led front.
The current Congress initiative is a result of the DMK’s failure to woo DMDK leader Vijayakanth though it is nearly two years since he fell out with the AIADMK.
Rahul made the first move by sending birthday greetings to Vijayakanth on August 25, which took the actor-turned-politician by surprise. When state Congress leaders called to greet him, Vijayakanth effusively talked about Rahul’s fax.
Vijayakanth, whose party won close to 10 per cent votes in the last two elections, was noncommittal about tying up with the Congress, though, saying he would wait for the election dates to be announced.
However, some of his lieutenants have been speaking of how Rahul has never sent birthday greetings to DMK chief M. Karunanidhi or his son M.K. Stalin, indicating how impressed Vijayakanth is with the gesture.
Taking the cue from Rahul, state Congress leaders too worked on Vijayakanth’s ego by giving him pride of place when he came to G.K. Moopanar’s memorial on Friday, his death anniversary.
Congress leaders led by Union shipping minister G.K. Vasan waited an hour to receive Vijayakanth so that all of them could jointly honour the memory of Vasan’s father, who was a trusted trouble-shooter for Indira and Rajiv Gandhi.
The Congress has also done the DMK a favour in the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa in a Bangalore court.
The DMK had discovered that the newly appointed special public prosecutor, Bhavani Singh, was rushing through the final phase of the prosecution to enable judge Balakrishna to deliver the verdict before he retires on September 30.
Fearing that the last-minute rush could result in Jayalalithaa’s acquittal, the DMK filed a petition in Karnataka High Court on August 26 seeking a new prosecutor and alleging Singh was helping the defendants.
While the high court issued notices returnable in a week, Karnataka’s Congress government removed Singh from the case following DMK lobbying with Sonia.
“We are grateful that the Congress high command moved fast to fix this,” a DMK member of Parliament said.
Sensing the DMK was trying to get the former prosecutor in the case, B.V. Acharya, reappointed, Jayalalithaa managed to get a Supreme Court stay against the appointment of Singh’s successor.
“It’s now up to the DMK and the DMDK to reciprocate after the reach-out by our leadership,” a Congress MP said.
The Congress hopes to draft in Vijayakanth first, which would increase its bargaining clout with the DMK even while humouring the latter.
“If Vijayakanth is with us, it’s the DMK that will be talking alliance with us and not the other way round. Our aim is to get at least 20 seats compared to the 15 we got in 2009,” a senior Congress official said. The Congress had won eight of the 15 seats.