- Congress had accused DMK of not following coalition dharma
- If Congress leaves the alliance, let them go, says DMK leader
- DMK also boycotted an opposition meeting in Delhi called by Congress
The DMK-Congress alliance in Tamil Nadu, strained because of a disagreement over local body polls, has hit another low with a DMK leader saying his party is "not bothered at all" if the Congress exits the partnership.
DMK treasurer Durai Murugan on Wednesday reacted sharply to a Congress leader accusing his party of not following coalition dharma during allocation of seats for the local body polls.
"If they leave the alliance, let them go. What is the harm? We are not bothered if the Congress goes out of the alliance, in particular, I am not concerned," Durai Murugan told reporters.
Asked if DMK's vote share would be hit without Congress, he said: "No, not at all. Only if they (Congress) have a vote share ours (votes) will get reduced."
The comments drew an instant response from Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, who questioned: "Why did not this wisdom dawn before the Vellore parliamentary bye-election?"
The DMK-Congress rift went public when Tamil Nadu Congress chief KS Alagiri accused DMK chief MK Stalin of shortchanging the party by not allotting a fair number of posts of local body chiefs. The Congress said it was not given any of the 27 district panchayat chief posts.
An upset DMK then boycotted an opposition meeting in Delhi called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss strategy to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
It is a surprising turn for the one-time close allies, especially as Mr Stalin, during last year's national election, had been one of the most vocal supporters of a Congress-led coalition with Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister.
DMK leader TR Baalu said Mr Alagiri could have avoided making a public statement against their chief. "We did not take part in the meeting since our chief was accused of violating coalition dharma. The statement is a direct accusation on the DMK president," Mr Baalu, a Lok Sabha MP, told reporters on Monday.
Mr Alagiri has reportedly regretted his outburst since then in a meeting with Sonia Gandhi. On whether the allies could move on from the dispute, Mr Baalu said: "Time will tell whether (ties) have returned to the old status or not."