J Jayalalitha, who is being sworn in as Tamil Nadu’s new chief minister, is unlikely to join the Congress-led UPA at the Centre any time soon, according to sources in Chennai.
While Sonia Gandhi has already invited the AIADMK supremo for ‘breakfast’ and congratulated her on her victory over Congress ally DMK, the feisty former-actress is unlikely to show much attention to the Congress now.
“That was before the state election. This is after the election,” says a political commentator, close to the AIADMK, on Jayalalitha’s offer to support the UPA government at the Centre.
In November last year, Jayalalitha had offered her “unconditional support” to the Congress government if it took action against DMK leaders in the 2G scam case and the latter withdrew its support at the UPA at the Centre.
“I am interested in seeing is that the perpetrator of such a massive scam is not allowed to go scot free simply because of the compulsion of coalition politics,” she had said, after making the unconventional offer.
While her earnestness was not in doubt, the offer was seen by some in the Congress as a political gimmick and the party, not surprisingly, chose to ignore it. In addition, DMK had 18 seats in the Lok Sabha, compared to just 9 that the AIADMK held — subtracting from the attractiveness of Jaya’s offer.
Unfortunately for the Congress, popular opinion and judicial pressure soon forced the party to take action against the leaders of its ally DMK, including Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi and A Raja, the former telecom minister who continues to languish in jail under trial.
Now, with the state elections more or less wiping out the DMK from the state legislature, many in the Congress see Jayalalitha — who usually prefers the BJP — as a more promising partner for the next national elections in 2014. DMK, on the other hand, is seen as a liability as the 2G scam investigation is bound to unearth more and more dirt.
With the bigger than expected victory — partly credited to the 2G scam — AIADMK sources feel the downside of being seen as an ally of the Congress — the national incumbent — outweigh any benefits that may arise from joining the Central government.
Some of them fear that the popular anger at the Congress-DMK combine seen during the just concluded elections may hound the Congress in the future, while others feel the party must wait and watch before taking a call on allying with the Congress.
Jayalalitha is also not happy about being spurned by the Congress when she made her original offer for support seven months ago. “It is only now, when it is clear DMK’s money and freebies cannot buy off the voter, that they are coming back to her,” pointed out the source.
As if to underline the point — BJP leader Narendra Modi — characterised as the merchant of death by Sonia Gandhi — was the primary attraction at Jaya’s swearing in ceremony in Chennai today.