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News Features  


 

Karunanidhi plans key talks in Delhi
CHENNAI: With the poll heat picking up in Tamil Nadu, chief minister M Karunanidhi’s three-day Delhi visit, during which he will meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi, has gained significance.
The meeting will kick off alliance talks and cement the Congress-DMK ties ahead of a tough assembly election.
During his meeting with Sonia Gandhi, Karunanidhi is likely to identify the panel of DMK leaders that will negotiate with the Congress for seats.
“The leaders may not discuss numbers and constituencies. But the meeting between the two will generate goodwill and send a clear signal to cadres and allies to be more accommodative and work together,” said a senior Congress leader.

“It is more important to strengthen the alliance by adding partners. We should keep this in mind when we demand seats. Naturally, we expect to be the second seniormost partner in the alliance,” he said.
The Congress and the DMK are keen to rope in the PMK, the Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhagam (KNMK) and some minority and caste groups. While the PMK is demanding at least 30 seats, the KNMK, with its growing clout in the western belt, is keen on contesting at least 15 seats.
With the Congress deciding to stick with the DMK despite AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa’s offer of support in the wake of the spectrum scam, battlelines have been clearly drawn in the state. Two main fronts, one led by the DMK and the other by the AIADMK, will slug it out in what political observers believe could be an evenly poised poll battle.

The recent remarks by Jayalalithaa describing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his government as “weak” has only strengthened the Congress resolve to continue its alliance with the DMK.
“If the DMK is tainted with one scam, the Congress is saddled with many scandals. Moreover, it is important to save the UPA government (the DMK-VCK combine has 19 members in the Lok Sabha). It really doesn’t matter if we win or lose the election in Tamil Nadu as long as we can keep UPA-II going,” reasoned a senior Congress leader based in Delhi.
But Pradesh Congress Committee leaders have prepared a wishlist of at least 75 constituencies favourable to them.

Pointed out one leader, “After the 2006 assembly election, when the DMK did not get a majority and we were their main backers, the Congress high command failed to swing a deal for us to share power. But this time we are firm in our demand for more seats and power-sharing if we emerge victorious in this election.”
Some leaders are said to have submitted a detailed report to Sonia to justify their demand for 75 seats.
“The report also contains the Congress party’s weak and strong constituencies in the state,” they added.
DMK sources said the party chief was not keen to concede more than 60 seats to the Congress as the PMK too would have to be accommodated.
The Congress contested 48 seats in the last assembly election and won 35. (TOI)