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DMK-Congress Reach Poll Accord

New Delhi/Chennai, Mar 8: Blinking first in the battle of attrition, DMK today conceded 63 seats for Congress under a seat-sharing deal for the  Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, ending three days of political drama triggered

PTI Updated on: March 08, 2011 22:20 IST
dmk congress reach poll accord
dmk congress reach poll accord

New Delhi/Chennai, Mar 8: Blinking first in the battle of attrition, DMK today conceded 63 seats for Congress under a seat-sharing deal for the  Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, ending three days of political drama triggered by its brinkmanship.

After  two rounds of negotiations today and last night's discussions with Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi, DMK leaders today agreed to give Congress 15 seats more than it had contested last time.

The deal was announced by Union Health Minister and AICC General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad in Delhi and DMK chief M Karunanidhi in Chennai.

"I am happy that the deal has been struck between DMK and Congress. Like 63 nayanmars (Tamil Shaivaite saints), you have been given the 63 seats. You should accept it with the same amount of Bhakti like Nayanmars', he told the Congress at a meeting where volunteers from other parties joined DMK.

The Chief Minister said that under the seat-sharing formula, DMK will contest 121 seats, Congress 63, PMK 30, VCK 10, Kongu Munnetra Katchi 7, IUML 2 and Moovendar Munnetra Kazhagam 1 for the 234 member assembly.

DMK sources said that while the party has conceded to Congress over the number of seats, it has not not given in to the Congress position that it will pick the seats it would like to contest.

The sources said while Congress could get the constituencies it contested last time, the additional seats would  be decided by negotiations.

They also claimed that the issue of power-sharing would be decided after the elections. But going by the number of seats the DMK would be contesting, it may have to give up on its earlier stubborn attitude of not sharing power, according to analysts.

DMK sacrificed one seat from its own quota and took one each from  allies PMK and Muslim League to satisfy Congress, which had raised its demand after accepting 60 seats last week.  For the first time the DMK would be contesting in less number of seats.

The Congress demand of 63 seats was one of the issues on which Karunanidhi decided that the party would pull out from the Union government.

Azad told reporters outside Gandhi's 10 Janpath Residence that  the leadership of DMK and Congress have finally decided on the number of seats and Congress will contest 63 seats. "It is a winning alliance," he said.

The deal was announced after DMK Minister Dayanidhi Maran held two rounds talks with senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament House during which Azad and Gandhi's Political Secretary Ahmed Patel were also present.

From the meeting a beaming Maran, accompanied by another Union Minister M K Alagiri, and Congress leaders drove to Gandhi's residence to thank her for the deal on behalf of DMK's leadership.

In an act of brinkmanship, DMK announced the pull out of its six ministers from the Union Council of Ministers and offered issued-based support accusing Congress of making attempts to push it out of the coalition.

On Friday night, Karunanidhi had accused the Congress of being unreasonable by escalating the demand for seats from 50 to 53 to 57 and then to 60.  And after agreeing to settle for 60, the party later raised the demand to 63, he had complained.

Asked what is the formula of the deal with the Congress, Alagiri said, "It is a winning formula.

"This is the expectation of the cadre that there should be an amicable settlement," he said when asked whether the credit for clinching the deal should go to him and Maran.

Asked whether DMK cadres will work for Congress during the polls in view of the recent bitterness between the two parties on the issue of alliance, Alagiri said, "Definitely. The entire cadre will work for the coalition and we will come back to power."

After the talks made no headway last night, both sides renewed consultations this morning through a series of meetings to thrash out the differences, with Mukherjee playing a key role.

Mukherjee made at least two telephonic calls with Karunanidhi since the crisis threatened the seven-year tie-up between the two parties.

The DMK-led alliance has a tough battle on hand as rival AIADMK is also putting up a formidable alliance by roping in the DMDK led by Actor Vijaykant, MDMK as also the Left parties. PTI

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