Congress looks at big picture as Baalu meets Sonia
The Congress on Wednesday made two tactical moves, which could end months of isolation it faced in Parliament and outside. It supported Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the trust vote necessitated by Janata Dal (United)’s break-up with the BJP and tentatively mended fences with former ally DMK by granting its parliamentary party leader T R Baalu an audience with Congress president Sonia Gandhi without any commitment though.
Baalu’s said to have approached Sonia to seek the Congress party’s support for DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi’s bid for a second term in Rajya Sabha. The DMK is short of nine votes and the Congress support could bring down the deficit to four.
Though DMK was not been given any categorical assurance on whether the Congress will support its candidate, the fact that Sonia agreed to meet Baalu was no less significant. This was, after all, the first time such a meeting was taking place at 10, Janpath since last March when DMK walked out of the UPA alliance.
But, it seems, the Congress is yet to take a clear stand on supporting Kanimozhi. It had similarly kept the decision to support Nitish Kumar pending till late Tuesday night. It could be the same for DMK. Party spokesperson P C Chacko vaguely said, “We have not decided whether to support the DMK candidate in the Rajya Sabha election. The general secretary in charge (Mukul Wasnik) will make an announcement in this connection.’’
However, sources in the DMK said that the party is somewhat confident that it’ll convince the Congress leadership to support its candidate. The Congress support is crucial for Kanimohzi as she could be declared elected with its five votes, without having garnered the required 34 votes.
The DMK has already managed to rope in MNMK, which has pledged its two votes to Kani. The DMK is also in talks with the PMK, which is also likely to support Kani and announcement on this could be expected on June 23. The other party Karunanidhi is tapping for his daughter’s re-election to the Upper House is Puthiya Tamilagam, for two more votes. The Congress is undecided as its Tamil Nadu unit chief B S Gnanadesikan has been approached by the main opposition party in the State Assembly, DMDK, on Tuesday for support to its candidate, A R Elangovan. The DMDK has 22 votes and needs outside support to get its party treasurer elected to Rajya Sabha. The Congress vote will not help it win the race. But for the long term, DMDK could be a better alliance partner for the Congress, keeping the 2014 Lok Sabha election in mind. At least that’s what Gnanadesikan feels. But for the Congress central leadership and the UPA Government, support to DMK patriarch’s daughter could yield benefits in Parliament when two crucial legislations, the food security Bill and the land acquisition Bill, come up for voting. The Congress high command is quite desperate to get these two Bills through and the government is even considering a two-day special session of Parliament for it.
And, as the PM reminded everyone the other day, there are “no permanent friends and permanent enemies in politics’’. Everything depends on the political situation and a quid pro quo is an useful tool of survival in Indian parliamentary politics.