New Delhi: Calling Karunanidhi a “father figure”, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi in her condolence message to MK Stalin recalled the “great kindness and consideration” the DMK patriarch showed towards her “which she can never forget”.
Congress’s success in wooing allies, especially the DMK, to clinch an alliance that pulverised AIADMK in 40 seats in Tamil Nadu proved to be the decider that led to Vajpayee government's exit in 2004.
It also marked the end of a tumultuous relationship between the two parties in general. And more importantly between the two leaders — Sonia Gandhi and M Karunanidhi.
In 1998, the Jain Commission Report on the assassination of former Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi’s husband Rajiv Gandhi was leaked to some sections of the press. The report claimed that there had been communication between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, which was responsible for the assassination, and the DMK in Tamil Nadu.
According to reports, coded messages were exchanged between Jaffna and Tamil Nadu leading up to the assassination. This led the Congress to withdraw support from the United Front (UF) government in 1998, of which the DMK was also a part.
However, six years later, both leaders decided to bury the hatchet and political pragmatism and large heartedness prevailed. The DMK joined the Sonia-led United Progressive Alliance ahead of the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. The ‘rainbow coalition’ of the DMK, Congress, MDMK and PMK swept the election winning all 39 of Tamil Nadu’s seats, in addition to the Puducherry seat.
The two parties then fought the 2006 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls in alliance as well, which helped Karunanidhi become Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time. While the alliance was tested yet again in 2012, after the 2G scam case when DMK ministers in the government were brought under the scanner. However, the DMK rejoined the alliance in 2016.