Party chief M Karunanidhi had strongly opposed the recent hike in diesel price, cap on LPG cylinders and FDI in multi-brand retail. Although DMK is a constituent of the ruling coalition, he announced support for the nationwide bandh that was organised by the BJP and Left parties on Sept 20 to highlight their protest against the three aforementioned decisions.
In order to placate the southern ally of the Congress, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent his emissary to Chennai yesterday. V Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, went to Karunanidhi's CIT Colony residence and held discussions.
However, the latter made it clear that his party is not interested in having any more union ministers right now. Karunanidhi's son MK Alagiri, Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, is the lone DMK member of Manmohan Singh's cabinet at present.
When the UPA-II government was formed three years ago, the party was allocated three cabinet posts but the 2G spectrum scam claimed the scalp of A Raja in Nov 2010 while Dayanidhi Maran quit in Jul 2011 after the CBI accused him of coercion in the Aircel-Maxis deal.
Besides Alagiri, DMK is now represented at the Centre by four ministers of state namely S Gandhiselvan, D Napoleon, SS Palanimanickam and S Jagathratchagan.
Of late, there was speculation that senior party leader TR Baalu may get an important portfolio in the impending cabinet reshuffle. With Karunanidhi turning down the PM's offer, that seems unlikely.
According to DMK sources, they are only backing the UPA since they have no other option. In Tamil Nadu, DMK is not even the main opposition party. The DMDK led by actor-turned politician Vijayakanth bagged more seats than it in the last Assembly elections, relegating the party to third place in the state legislature.
Over the last 16 months, the AIADMK government has put several DMK leaders behind bars on charges of land grab and corruption. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa does not miss a single opportunity to hit out at Karunanidhi and slams him whenever the UPA takes any unpopular decisions.
Due to all this, the DMK supremo is mulling whether to continue the alliance with the Congress whose image has been dented significantly by a series of massive scams. He is aware that if someone from his party joins the tottering government, the DMK's poll prospects will be irreparably harmed. No wonder Karunanidhi said no to the PM yesterday.