India's Congress in alliance shuffle

The alliance between the Congress and the Tamil Nadu-based DMK broke down over the weekend, purportedly over the sharing of seats in the upcoming Tamil Nadu elections. But some see the move as coming in response to the Congress efforts to prosecute DMK scion AndimuthuRaja (the former telecom minister alleged to have played a role in the 2G spectrum scam).

(Former screenwriter Karunanidhi leads the DMK)

Never fear, though, Congress-wallahs. Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party (SP) offered to step into the breach if the DMK pulls out of the United Progressive Alliance government at the central level, which would prevent Manmohan Singh's government falling to a no confidence motion.

The Hindu writes that DMK has ruled out backtracking on its decision, despite its possible lack of impact and the risk that it will propel the Congress into the arms of its rival, the AIADMK. (I know, too many letters -- but trust me, you really don't want me to spell out these names).

Given that the DMK alliance -- and the DMK's dominance in those polls -- was the real key to Sonia Gandhi's suprise victory for the Congress in 2004, the TN elections next month could be a litmus test for whether the long-moribund BJP has been given new life by the Congress foul-ups on corruption.