Nanguneri: Even as the opposition parties in the country were decimated by the NDA in the general elections, Tamil Nadu offered some crumbs of satisfaction for the DMK-Congress combine giving them a virtual sweep in the State.

The strong alliance won 38 out of the 39 parliamentary seats in the State.

The tie-up, however, has run into rough weather of late. And it looks like the situation is coming to a head over the Nanguneri assembly by-election. The by-election is necessitated because the sitting MLA, H Vasanthakumar of the Congress has resigned after he was elected as the MP from Kanyakumari constituency.

Though the Election Commission is still to announce the date for the by-election, there is already considerable tussle between the DMK and the Congress in contesting for the seat.

The Congress feels that since the sitting MLA was from the Congress, the seat should naturally go for it. 

Taking the initiative on the issue, the State Congress, at a meeting attended by its State president K S Alagiri passed a resolution for fielding its own candidate in the Nanguneri Assembly constituency.

Upping the ante on the issue, the party has indicated that it would, if it came to that, would not hesitate to contest the election all alone without any alliance.

Though Alagiri later watered down the party's stance, the mood in the party is clearly one of defiance. The party also feels that since it had contested the seat for five straight times (in 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016), it deserves to have a crack at it again.  

On the other hand, the DMK is equally intent on contesting the seat, especially since the newly-anointed youth wing head Udhyanidhi Stalin himself had made it clear that his party would go for it in the constituency.

Since the DMK is trying to build a political career for Udhayanidhi, it is in no mood to go back on the issue after he had  spoken his mind on the issue.

The Congress says that in the bye-elections to 22 seats in April and May, it willingly gave up the Sholingur constituency to the DMK since it had an outside chance of unseating the AIADMK government. But since the DMK could not win the requisite numbers in by-elections (for the record, it won 13 of the 22 seats), all its grand plans to form the government did not happen.

Now since the DMK cannot dislodge the AIADMK government with the current numbers, the Congress is not ready to let go of the Nanguneri seat.

The thinking in the DMK is one of long-term calculation. Sources in the DMK indicate that there is some apprehension over Congress's future and its approach. DMK feels that the Congress needs it more than it needs the Congress.

Also, since the DMK is focused on the 2021 Assembly election, and it wants to stay aggressive and not yield much space to its alliance partners, lest they start demanding more seats during the polls.

But since the Congress already fields slighted in the state, it wants to prove a point to others that it will not be a pushover.

Hence the standoff in Nanguneri. 

Whatever happens over Nanguneri, the aftertaste is certain to be bitter for both the Congress and the DMK.