The alliance between Tamil Nadu’s main opposition DMK and the Congress, which swept the 2019 national election in the state, is in trouble in neighbouring Puducherry, ruled by the Congress.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi last week watched a Jallikattu bull-taming event in Madurai with DMK leaders. But that bonhomie is missing in Puducherry, where elections will be held along with those of Tamil Nadu in a few months.
DMK MP S Jagathrakshakan, who has been made the in-charge of Puducherry, said after a meeting yesterday that the party will contest all 30 seats in Puducherry – and win all. Dramatically, he added: “If we fail, I will commit suicide on this stage.”
Signs of a strain have been visible in recent weeks. The DMK did not attend a special assembly session called by the Congress government on the Centre’s farm laws that have led to massive farmer protests. In more troubling signs for the partnership, the DMK skipped Chief Minister VK Narayanasamy’s public roadside protests against Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi.
The DMK has three MLAs in the current assembly and the Congress has 14. The AIADMK has four seats and the All India NR Congress has seven.
Sources say Mr Jagathrakshakan is looking to contest the polls with the PMK, which wants special category quota for the powerful Vanniyar castes.
Mr Jagathrakshakan’s personal ambitions are also believed to have exacerbated alliance troubles despite the strong ties between the parties in Tamil Nadu. The DMK leader is said to be eying the Chief Minister’s post, that sets him at cross purposes with Mr Narayanasamy.
There is also a view that the DMK wants to cut its losses in Puducherry after predicting that the Congress led by Mr Narayanasamy is unlikely to return to power.
However, the DMK needs the Congress in Puducherry as much as the Congress needs the DMK in Tamil Nadu. In the last election, the DMK won only two of the nine seats it contested. It won a third seat in bypolls.
The rift has emerged days before Rahul Gandhi’s three-day visit to Tamil Nadu to review poll preps and address election meetings.