|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
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
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
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
Some leaders are said to have submitted a detailed
report to Sonia to justify their demand for 75
“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)