After several days of intense negotiations, some tantrums and a few back room deals, the ruling DMK has given 63 seats (out of 234) to Congress in the coming assembly elections.
This is extraordinary as this leaves DMK only 121 seats to contest. PMK which was earlier given 31 has been downsized to 30. VCK has been given 10, Kongu Munnetra Kazhagam 7, and 3 more to smaller parties. This would mean that even if this combine wins the assembly elections (very unlikely), DMK will need Congress and PMK to form a coalition ministry.
Congress demanded an agreement to form a coalition government before the elections while DMK disagreed with that. But now, de facto, Congress has achieved precisely that.
The 'sell out', as it is seen by the DMK cadre is alleged to be linked to 'going slow' on CBI's investigation into 2G scam. If indeed this allegation is true, the future cannot be bright for the combine.
DMK is between a rock and a hard place. Having tasted victory in securing the seats they wanted, Congress will now continue to tighten the screws, and demand the choice of seats which are considered winnable. This will only result in more consternation amidst DMK and PMK cadre. The end result is a poor showing by the cadre.
At the end of the day, beyond the supposed 'money power' and 'bogus voting' that DMK is accused of, it is the enthusiastic campaign by its supporters that has helped the party and the coalition to win the previous elections. But this time, the cadre do not seem to be happy at all.
On the other side, Jayalalitha has not yet worked out any deals with MDMK, CPI and CPM. She probably thinks they have nowhere else to go, as DMK coalition is complete. So she can play hardball and give these three together around 30 seats and no more. These three, on their own, are incapable of winning a single seat. The communists will probably have the ability to hurt the winning chances of either grouping in 4-5 constituencies.
MDMK's Vaiko is a sad case. He has been loyal to Jayalalitha, who is not known much for rewarding such loyalty. Vaiko has seen his support base dwindle by the year and defections have eaten into his party. He is in no position to negotiate for anything from Jayalalitha. He can consider either merging his party into AIADMK or take a political sanyasa. The communists are also fast becoming irrelevant in a reasonably equitably growing state like Tamil Nadu. Their earlier power bases such as the Thanjavur agricultural delta and Coimbatore industrial region have probably deserted them fully now. Agriculture has dwindled in Thanjavur while DMK, AIADMK unions have replaced the communist power base in Coimbatore.
Back to DMK-Congress. There will be another round of intense feuding, with open dissonance, followed by a few more CBI raids. Then Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi wil appear together with Karunanidhi in a couple of well publicised public meetings. But the frosty relationship will be visible for all to see.
I can't see how DMK alliance will win this time, money, Azhagiri and Stalin notwithstanding.