DMK to go solo in local polls

DMK to go solo in local polls

Chennai: The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party said it will contest next month’s local body elections in Tamil Nadu on its own, but insisted its relationship with the Congress party, with which it shares power at the Centre, is not over.

Ties between the two parties, which fought the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and the 2006 and 2011 assembly elections together, have become strained over the indictment of some senior DMK leaders in the second generation (2G) telecom spectrum scam.

The DMK made the announcement of going it alone in civic polls in a statement late on Wednesday.

“The ties between the two parties (DMK and Congress) at the time of Lok Sabha and assembly polls will not break and it will continue," the DMK’s 87-year-old chief M. Karunanidhi said on Thursday. “We are on good terms with the Centre."

On being asked, he said no Congress leader had spoken to him after his party’s statement the previous evening.

“We have already mentioned clearly in the statement. We have not said there is no relationship with Congress," he added. “There is no alliance for the local body elections and DMK will contest alone was the only announcement I made."

Karunanidhi said local body polls relate to people’s basic needs. “There is no need to mix politics in this."

Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi and former Union telecom minister A. Raja, both DMK leaders, are already in jail for involvement in alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G telecom spectrum and licences.

Karunanidhi’s grandnephew and former Union textiles minister Dayanidhi Maran may also face charges in the case.

Political observers said the DMK’s move does not spell the end of its alliance with the Congress.

“I don’t think the relationship at the Centre is going to be affected because of this. This is just sending feelers to see how far the Congress will go," said Cho Ramaswamy, editor of the weekly Tamil political magazine, Tughlak. “They are trying to apply some pressure so that there may be some Congress influence on the CBI."

The CBI, or the Central Bureau of Investigation, is probing the 2G case.

A Congress leader said the party was pleased with the DMK’s decision to contest alone.

“We, the Congress people, are very happy about it and we thank the DMK leader for making this decision," said E.V.K.S. Elangovan, a former president of the party’s state unit.

In the past, the Congress, too, has contested civic polls alone in some states, despite having allies there. For instance, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, allies in the Maharashtra assembly and at the Centre, parted ways for municipal elections in 2007. Last year, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress also contested the West Bengal civic polls independently, despite an alliance at the state and central level.

The local body elections are crucial for the DMK, which lost to an alliance led by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in state elections in April this year.

The DMK is now not even the second largest party in the state assembly, winning even fewer seats than the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK).

PTI contributed to this story.