End of the road for Congress-DMK alliance?

The DMK said its six ministers in the UPA Cabinet will resign on Monday.

Chennai/New Delhi: The battle of attrition
between DMK and Congress escalated on Sunday as signals emerged
that both parties appeared headed for a divorce from their
seven-year-old alliance ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly

Six DMK ministers, including two at the Cabinet level,
will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi tomorrow
and handover their resignations in the wake of the party
decision after the collapse of talks with the Congress over
seat-sharing for the elections.

The DMK, which yesterday decided to pull out its
ministers from the UPA government at the Centre, today
seemingly hardened its stand even not ruling out Left parties
joining its alliance.

After an informal meeting with his party leaders, DMK
chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi hinted to
reporters about the possibility of Left parties joining the

"Yes," he said when asked whether there was a
possibility of Left parties joining the DMK-led alliance.

He also made it clear that there was no contact from
Congress leadership with his party after its yesterday`s

To a question, Karunanidhi said the Congress demand
for 63 seats over the agreed number of 60 was one of the
reasons for the DMK`s decision.

Asked how many seats will his party contest, he said:
"You will know it in one or two days."

In Delhi, highly-placed Congress sources said the
party has not yet taken any decision and was keeping "all
options" open.

The options included remaining with the DMK, tying up
with AIADMK or going it alone in the Assembly polls, sources said.

"Let the DMK ministers meet Prime Minister (to submit
their resignation)...let us see what happens," they said.

Earlier, Union Chemicals Minister and Karunanidhi`s
son MK Alagiri said in Chennai that his party did not expect
the Congress to "come back" for a possible patch up.

"I am happy," he said when asked over DMK`s decision
to pull out from the UPA Cabinet of which he is a part. He
said Congress` exit from the alliance will not have any impact
on DMK`s poll prospects.

In Delhi, the Congress party also did not appear to be
the one to be in a hurry to buckle to what it considers DMK`s
pressure tactics.

"No initiative will be taken by us to break the
deadlock and we are prepared for DMK`s move to pull out its
ministers from the government," the sources said on condition
of anonymity.

In the elections for 234 seats, the DMK had agreed to
give 60 seats for Congress and was planning to contest in 122
seats on its own apart from giving over 50 seats to allies
like PMK and some other smaller parties. The DMK has 18 MPs in
the Lok Sabha.

Congress sources said, "There is more to it (DMK`s
decision) than meets the eye. You don’t forego the support of
18 MPs at the Centre for getting three seats more from your
ally in the seat-sharing," a senior leader said.

There is a view in the party that even if DMK
withdraws support, it will not have a bearing on the survival
of the government and, as such, giving in at this juncture
makes no sense as it could "create fresh problems in future".

Sources dismissed reports that senior Congress
leader Pranab Mukherjee or Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad
were being dispatched to Chennai for talks with DMK Chief M
Karunanidhi to sort out issues.

DMK leader T R Baalu also said none from the Congress
leadership had made any contact with the DMK high command on
the current state of relations.

Azad, in-charge of party affairs in Tamil Nadu, meanwhile met Finance Minister Mukherjee tonight and is understood to have discussed the situation in the state.

There was however no word on what transpired at the 40-minute

Highly-placed sources in the DMK said they were going
ahead with seat-sharing talks with PMK and allocation of seats
to a number of small allies had already taken place putting
restrictions on how much the party could accommodate Congress.

Sources said it appears that there is no chance of a
patch-up with the Congress.

Sources said there was some hardening of the
stand in the party leadership today and they were not in a
mood to even repeat their last night`s offer that they were
prepared to consider a tie-up even at this stage if Congress
confined its demand for 60 seats and gave up its condition
that it would choose the constituencies it would contest.

There is also a feeling in Congress that the option
of tying up with AIADMK appears to be limited because of the
timing and also because she is considered a difficult ally.

The Congress leadership feels that the DMK`s decision
may be only posturing against the backdrop of difficulties the
party was facing in view of the CBI investigations in the 2G
spectrum scam in which the agency has already raided the
premises of Kalaignar TV and could question Karunanidhi`s
family members.

DMK had surprised the Congress by announcing
yesterday that it was withdrawing from the government saying
that Congress did not want it to continue in the alliance.

The party accused the Congress of increasing its
demand to 63 Assembly seats after initially agreeing for 60

Asked about the possibility of Congress-DMK alliance
survival, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, however, said,
"we certainly do not subscribe to pessimistic or doomsday

He added, "Our only object is to get the best
negotiated understanding both for the Congress and for the
alliance as a whole."

Sources in Congress indicated that the party would not
take any initiative on its own right now to woo the DMK which
had taken the unilateral decision to opt out of the Central
government in the middle of negotiations.

"Since the announcement to pull out support has come
from them, the ball is in their court to save the alliance," a
senior party leader said.

Senior Congress leaders are expected to meet before
the Parliament session tomorrow to review the situation.