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Updated: February 18, 2011 02:23 IST

Congress demand for more seats puts DMK leadership in a fix

B. Kolappan
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A file photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi. File Photo.
A file photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi. File Photo.

It is finding it difficult to concede demands of other prospective allies

With the Congress asking for “substantial increase” in its share of seats for the Assembly elections, the DMK leadership is finding it difficult to immediately concede the demands of other prospective allies such as the PMK.

While it is under compulsion to cobble together a formidable alliance against the AIADMK, the party does not have too many seats to concede to the Congress, which is demanding about 80 seats.

Senior DMK leaders feel that the Congress, taking advantage of the political situation following the 2G spectrum scam, has created a situation akin to the 1980 Assembly election when both the DMK and the Congress contested in about the same number of seats.

Only 23 extra seats

If the seat-sharing arrangement adopted in 2006 is taken as the basis, the DMK has only 23 extra seats to spare now with the exit of the Left parties from the alliance. But, it has a new ally in Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), which expects to get as many seats as it contested in 2006 as part of the AIADMK alliance: nine.

Eventually the DMK leadership will be left with 13 seats and can offer the Congress about 60 seats, as against 48 in 2006.

Problems likely to emerge

However, problems are likely to emerge if the Congress refuses to settle for 60 and forces the DMK to concede more.

While it is impossible for the DMK to reduce its own share – it contested 132 in 2006 – any attempt to cut the share of the PMK may not work. Relations between the two parties are strained and the PMK is in no mood to settle for fewer than the 31 seats it contested in the company of the DMK in the 2006 elections.

Though both sides have moved beyond the difficulties caused by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi's remark that Congress president Sonia Gandhi was against having the PMK as part of the alliance, they have been unable to agree on a seat-sharing agreement.

Mr. Karunanidhi could not give a firm commitment on the number of seats he could apportion for the PMK, despite assuring senior leaders of the party of a place in the alliance.

The DMK has sought time till after completion of seat-sharing talks with the Congress for deciding the exact number of seats for the PMK.

AIADMK front

In the AIADMK front, party general secretary Jayalalithaa has set the ball rolling by completing seat-sharing with minor allies such as the Puthiya Tamizhagam and Republican Party of India.

She is yet to enter into an agreement with Vijayakant's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam, though sources say it will be over in a couple of days. Mr. Vijayakant, who had gone to Srivilluputhur and Madurai on pilgrimage, is back in Chennai ready for political discussions.

But, in the hope of the DMK-PMK talks failing, and the PMK returning to the AIADMK alliance, Ms. Jayalalithaa is unable to conclude discussions with the DMDK, MDMK and the Left parties.

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