The catalyst: a whirlwind one-month tour during which Rahul Gandhi met students, dalits, and launched a membership drive. ''In Tamil Nadu, over a million young men have joined the Youth Congress. They are positively disposed to the Congress,'' says Gandhi.
The Congress has not been in power in Tamil Nadu for 40 years. And during Gandhi's tour, sources in the DMK said their leaders were unhappy with the attention Gandhi was grabbing.
Denials followed then, as they do now, from the Congress' ally.
"DMK is not threatened...we have approximately 50 lakh youth in our cadre,'' says Thangam Thennarasu, DMK Minister.
Gandhi has been credited with leading the Congress to substantial gains in Uttar Pradesh. His team says Tamil Nadu now has much of his attention.