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Cong-DMK ties will continue, says Pranab after meeting Karunanidhi

Chennai: In the backdrop of Dayanidhi Maran’s exit from the Union Cabinet over the 2G scam issue, senior Congress leader and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today discussed the current political situation with DMK chief M Karunanidhi and asserted that the alliance between the two parties would be strengthened.

Emerging from over an hour-long meeting with Karunanidhi at his residence here, Mukherjee told reporters, “The alliance is there, the alliance will continue and it will be strengthened.”

There were a lot of reports and speculation whether the alliance between the Congress and DMK would continue, he said in apparent reference to strains in the ties between the two parties following the exit of two DMK ministers, the arrest of Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum case and the rout of the alliance in the assembly polls.

Seeking to downplay his meeting with Karunanidhi, which came two days after Maran resigned, Mukherjee said it was his pratice to call on the DMK leader whenever he was in the city.

Noting that this was his first visit to Chennai after the Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, he said, “I took the opportunity of calling on him and explained the current political situation and shared our views.”

He declined to take any questions from mediapersons.

Maran was present at the meeting, also attended by Union Minister V Narayanasamy and TNCC President K V Thangkabalu besides DMK Parliamentary Party Leader T R Baalu.

Mukherjee’s meeting with the DMK patriarch assumed significance in the backdrop of speculation over an impending Union Cabinet reshuffle early next week and that he could discuss possible replacements for Maran and A Raja, who have resigned in the wake of the 2G scam.

At present, Karunanidhi’s son M K Alagiri is the lone DMK nominee in the union cabinet.
The DMK is reportedly not in a hurry to name replacements for Maran and Raja. However, the names of Baalu, party spokesman T K S Elangovan and A K S Vijayan are doing the rounds.

Mukherjee’s visit was also reported to be to “assuage” the feelings of Karunanidhi in the wake of recent political developments.

The meeting is the first top level contact between the leaders of the two parties in recent weeks after Kanimozhi’s arrest for which the DMK chief had earlier blamed the Centre.

Karuanidhi is sore over the continued incarceration of his daughter and skipped the UPA’s second anniversary celebrations when he visited Delhi to meet Kanimozhi.

Before Mukherjee arrived at Karunanidhi’s residence, Maran met Karunanidhi for the second time since his arrival from Delhi last night, when he briefed him about the developments surrounding his resignation.

Maran quit the Cabinet a day after the CBI told the Supreme Court that he had “forced” telecom promoter C Sivasankaran to sell his company Aircel to a Malaysian firm when he was the telecom minister in 2006.

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