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Thew DMK is the dominant partner in the alliance with the Congress in Tamil Nadu. 

The Congress in Tamil Nadu has sent a show cause notice to its Tirunelveli district secretary for circulating a resolution staking claim to the Nanguneri assembly seat in the upcoming bypoll.

The Congress in Tamil Nadu is pulling out all the stops to keep its dominant alliance partner DMK in good humour days after the grand old party’s Tirunelveli district unit passed a resolution staking claim to the Nanguneri assembly seat in the upcoming bypoll.

Bye-elections are scheduled for both Nanguneri in southern Tirunelveli district and Vikravandi in Villupuram district in the north. The bypoll for Nanguneri has been necessitated after HL Vasanthakumar of the Congress resigned following his election to the Lok Sabha from Kanyakumari. The Vikravandi seat fell vacant due to the death of sitting DMK legislator Radhamani.

Though the Election Commission is yet to announce the date, the Congress jumped the gun by organising a party workers meeting at Nanguneri last Friday where the Tirunelveli district said the party had passed a resolution staking to contest the Nanguneri assembly seat.

Apprehensive of inviting the wrath of the DMK, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) has sent a show cause notice to Tirunelveli district secretary (East) SKM Sivakumar. The notice was sent by TNCC working president Mayura Jayakumar.

“It is height of indiscipline to pass such a resolution and such acts could not be allowed to go scot free,” TNCC president KS Alagiri told the media.

However, putting up a brave face he denied that this was due to pressure from the DMK.

“Even if it is pressure from god, the Congress will never buckle under pressure. We will never give into pressure from the allies,” he said.

Ironically, Alagiri too had addressed the meeting along with Congress in-charge of the state, Sanjay Dutt. But he said the controversial resolution was circulated after he left.

In his speech, Alagiri had exhorted the cadre to find out the reasons as to why the Congress should not fight the polls alone. The last time the Congress fought assembly elections on its own in Tamil Nadu was in 1989. The four-cornered contest saw the AIADMK factions of Jayalalithaa and Janaki besides the DMK. The DMK had swept the elections and the Congress could bag only 26 seats.

“Congress is strong in southern Tamil Nadu. But, why cannot we face the election on our own? We should find an answer to this question. Why we are not in a position to fight without an alliance?” Alagiri asked the party workers and urged them to find an answer.

The TNCC leadership’s predicament is understandable. Only recently DMK youth wing chief Udayanidhi Stalin had said that the party should contest the Nanguneri seat. As part of its firefighting measure, the Congress also said that it would not take any unilateral decision.

“Since Congress had already won the Nanguneri seat in 2016 elections, there is a general view that the party should contest the seat. However, we will not take any decision without discussing with the DMK, heading the secular alliance,” explained K Selvaperundhagai, former MLA and TNCC SC/ST wing president.

On Alagiri’s speech on going it alone in the polls, he explained it away as nothing but an encouragement for the cadre.

For now, the DMK too appears to have been pacified. “Let the bypoll dates be announced and we can proceed further. Any decision would be taken by the DMK leadership after due consultations with the allies,” party spokesperson Saravanan Annadurai made it clear.

Analysts say that though the Congress has pockets of influence and a substantial vote bank, the party is no more the famed third force that it was in the state. Now, it is dependent upon the DMK to be politically relevant.

“Given the political reality, contesting alone is not an option for the Congress. The party might not gain much by staking claim to Nanguneri. It has to be part of the DMK-led alliance so that it could be politically relevant. At the same time, keeping the alliance intact is more important for the DMK as it prepares for the 2021 Assembly elections. However, the Congress walking the extra mile to placate the DMK is indeed surprising,” says Aazhi Senthilnathan, a political commentator.

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