After giving his former ally, Congress, a dressing-down unheard in the past decade for its repeated acts of “ingratitude”, DMK president M Karunanidhi held out an olive branch to the party, offering a post-poll alliance for the sake of secularism, if it expresses regret. But the amnesty scheme was not extended to his rebel elder son, M K Alagiri, who was expelled from the party on Tuesday.
Launching his campaign for the coming Lok Sabha election in which his party is leading a five-member Democratic Progressive Alliance, here on Tuesday, Karunanidhi was stinging in his criticism of Congress leaders, who, he charged, had forgotten the meaning of gratitude. “That is the reason why the Congress is in the abyss in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere,” said the DMK patriarch, once a staunch Congress ally at the Centre, adding: “You need gratitude to lead a good life.”
Karunanidhi reminded the national party that it was the DMK that extended a helping hand in the past, referring to the crises days of UPA. “But forgetting the past, the Congress caused so much distress to the party and its members and they are paying for it now,” he said. Despite being a partner in power at the Centre and ruling party in the state, the DMK had a harrowing time ever since the 2G spectrum sale scam surfaced. The party, its cabinet minister A Raja, and Karunanidhi’s wife and daughter were caught in the scam taint, which they have not been able to wash off.
However, the DMK was ready to let it all go by, forgive their acts and give them amnesty, if the Congress leaders expressed regret, mend their manners, and are willing to stand on the secular platform, said Karunanidhi, in a twist that few expected. This, he hastened to add, was not a support in terms of votes — both parties have declared their candidates for 39 constituencies in Tamil Nadu.
This amnesty has not been extended to his son Alagiri, who persisted with his criticisms against the party leadership while under suspension, leading to his expulsion. “The party will not forget or forgive those who lack loyalty, whether brother, wife or son. For me, it is principles that come first, not children” he said.
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Incidentally, while Karunanidhi was away attending the rally in the evening, Alagiri paid a quick visit to his Gopalapuram residence to visit his ailing mother, Dayalu. Insiders say it was she who stood with the elder son in times of tussles with his younger brother, M K Stalin, a support that Alagiri lacks now.
Among the Karunanidhis — Alagiri, Stalin, Kanimozhi and even the patriarch himself — Stalin, the de facto leader of the party, is said to be the one most opposed to an alliance with the Congress. He calculates that Congress is a liability before polls, with the Sri Lankan issue being the region-specific matter besides all the anti-incumbency baggage.
Karunanidhi’s statement came after many Congress candidates from south Tamil Nadu, the supposed fiefdom of Alagiri, called on the expelled leader seeking support in the general election. Congress has relatively better strength in the south, and garnering a handsome number of votes, while being unlikely to win them any seat, will be helpful when Tamil Nadu politics is expected to return to alliance mode ahead of Assembly polls 2016.