DMK’s abstention has lent some credence to rumours about the strain in the ties between the two parties, which have been waging a cold war off media glare. DMK leaders did not hold back when they told under condition of anonymity that the abstention was their retort to Alagiri’s tell-all statement about their adherence to alliance dharma.
Meanwhile, the sequence of events during last week has triggered fresh speculation about the DMK contemplating an alliance without the Congress party.
Though sources confirmed that Stalin was averse to ditching Congress in 2021, he was keen on playing the lead role in opposing the BJP, as does West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “How long do they expect us to play second fiddle in opposing BJP? Like Mamata, our leader is also in forefront of anti-BJP movement at the national level. And it is not the old Congress anymore. They (Congress) should come to terms with it,” said a DMK senior under condition of anonymity, before recalling Stalin’s participation in events like Shiv Sena leader Udhav Thackeray’s swearing in ceremony despite the Congress top brass abstaining from it..
“We don’t want to ditch Congress in 2021. Stalin wants to keep Congress on board. Forget an unpopular AIADMK, we do not want Congress to join TTV’s AMMK or Kamal Haasan and form a third front next year, which would hurt us like it did in 2016. But they should keep in mind that they cannot intimidate us,” said a highly placed DMK source requesting anonymity.
“Indeed, we are aware that our political opponents and critics would use the abstention to question our commitment to opposing CAA or fighting for secularism. We might even be accused of prioritizing party politics over the fight against communalism. It will be a loss of face for Congress to not have its trusted ally attend the meeting. We cannot help it. Congress high command should realize how serious we are. If they assume that they can make provocative statements for a better bargain in 2021, they are seriously mistaken,” the source added.
A DMK second rung leader argued; “They must remember that only Stalin had proposed Rahul Gandhi for Prime Minister before 2019 Lok Sabha polls when no one in the opposition ranks did. We hope the AICC does remember it. Which other state would have got them nine Lok Sabha MPs? If they intend to test our patience, they will stand to lose because we have time to consider an alternative