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A new tie-up to defeat communal forces, says Manmohan Singh

By S. Vydhianathan

The senior Congress leader, Manmohan Singh, calling on the DMK president, M. Karunanidhi, at his house in Chennai on Thursday. Looking on are the TNCC president, G. K. Vasan (second from right), and the DMK deputy general secretary, M. K. Stalin (left). — Photo: K. Pichumani

CHENNAI, JAN. 8. After 24 years of estrangement, the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) have decided to come together for the Lok Sabha election.

The alliance was firmed up by the DMK president, M. Karunanidhi and the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) representative, Manmohan Singh, who agreed to work together after an hour-long luncheon meeting at Mr. Karunanidhi's house here today.

The two parties had contested together in the 1980 Assembly election, after which they parted company.

Dr. Singh, who was now deputed by the AICC president, Sonia Gandhi, to explore the possibilities of working out an alliance with the DMK, told newsmen later that the objective of the meeting was to establish a relationship of ``mutual trust and confidence between the two parties and write a new chapter in the history of the country.''

The Congress, he said, was seeking a new relationship with the DMK and Mr. Karunanidhi so that they could work together in defeating ``communal forces.'' The DMK leader, who was also aware of the dangers posed by such forces, agreed to work with the Congress to defeat them.

Seat allocation after poll announcement

Asked whether seat allocation was discussed, Dr. Singh said he had held only preliminary talks. The modalities of seat allocation would be decided after poll dates were announced.

Avoiding a direct reply to a question whether it would be inconvenient for the Congress to be in the company of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Dr. Singh said many things had happened in the past and Mr. Karunanidhi, as leader of the front in the State, would take care of these issues.

To another query whether the Congress wanted to build bridges with the Left parties through the DMK, Dr. Singh said the party wanted to do so with all secular forces. ``The party was for all right-thinking people to come together to defeat the communal forces.''

There was no move to project anybody as the prime ministerial candidate, Dr. Singh said. It was not an issue at all, as it had to be decided only by the people. However, he added that Opposition leaders would take a decision, and the failure to project anybody as the prime ministerial candidate would not weaken the Opposition front. Mr. Singh denied that he was in the race for the post.

Talks satisfactory: Karunanidhi

Mr. Karunanidhi, who was present, expressed complete satisfaction over the talks. He made it clear that the proposed progressive front would include both the Congress and the MDMK. Asked whether he would head the front in Tamil Nadu, he said though he was not for it, other party leaders were requesting him to lead the alliance.

As for the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), he said there was every possibility of that party joining the front as its leader, S. Ramadoss, agreed to meet him after the PMK meeting in the city on January 12.

Meets local Congress leaders

Dr. Singh, who was accompanied by the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) chief, G.K. Vasan, later held discussions with former party presidents, former Union Ministers, MLAs and MPs at the Satyamurthi Bhavan.

He also had a separate meeting with the former TNCC working president, E.V.K.S. Elangovan; the former MP, Peter Alphonse, and the MLAs, S. Maheswari and K. Jayakumar, who explained the prevailing situation in the State.

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