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India's Congress Wins Alliance Tussle

DMK caves on seat sharing, with hints that deal hinged on 2G spectrum probe

India's Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government is not going to fall after all, as the Congress has re-established its alliance with Tamil Nadu's errant DMK, reports the Hindustan Times. But there may be more to the story than a simple tiff over seat-sharing in the upcoming Tamil Nadu, a deep dive into the paper's middle pages suggests.

In a last ditch save yesterday, the DMK conceded to the Congress’ demand for 63 seats under a seat-sharing deal for the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, according to the HT. This is 15 seats more than the Congress contested under the previous Tamil Nadu election alliance, and it means that the DMK will put up candidates in only 121 seats, its fewest ever.

But apart from proving that the DMK has less leverage than it thought--especially after another regional power, the Uttar Pradesh-based Samajwadi Party, offered to step in as replacement to make up the numbers in the UPA's coalition majority--there's more than a little hint here of some behind the scenes negotiations regarding the ongoing probe into the 2G telecom spectrum scam.

Drawing attention to a curious comment from DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, the HT suggests that the DMK's undisclosed demands included more than a non-compete agreement on a bunch of parliamentary constituencies in its bastion of power, as a Central Bureau of Investigation probe is reportedly slated to interview Karunanidhi's daughter about the alleged 2G scam. "Did Karunanidhi’s unstated wish list include a demand that the CBI should not question his daughter till the TN" polls were over on April 13?" the paper asks, somewhat rhetorically, citing "buzz" in the corridors of power.

A senior DMK leader responded “if we wanted to influence the probe, we would had done it when A Raja was made to resign (as telecom minister) or arrested," the paper writes. But it adds "Now the issue is whether the CBI will question [Karunanidhi's daughter] Kanimozhi. She holds a 20% stake in Kalaignar TV, which allegedly got R214 crore from Mumbai-based Cineyug Films. The CBI claimed the funds came from the DB group of Shahid Balwa, who is in jail. Etisalat DB was one of the main beneficiaries in the scam."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/bric-yard/indias-congress-wins-alliance-tussle