Party not averse to including PMK in the DMK-led front

The Congress on Thursday said that it would commence seat-sharing talks for contesting the Assembly elections with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) this weekend. It also made it clear that it was not averse to including the Pattali Makkal Katchi in the DMK-led front.

After participating in a 75-minute-long meeting of the five-member committee of the Congress in New Delhi, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) president K.V. Thangkabalu told TheHindu over phone: “We have just decided to begin the talks. I have to talk to the DMK leadership and ascertain their convenience before fixing the date and time.”

A couple of weeks ago, the DMK constituted the committee, which included M.K. Stalin, Deputy Chief Minister and treasurer; Arcot N. Veeraswami, Durai Murugan and K. Ponmudy, Ministers; and T.R. Baalu, parliamentary party leader, for holding negotiations.

Pointing out that Mr. Stalin was away in London on a private visit, the TNCC chief said the talks could begin only after his return. [Mr Stalin is expected to return to Chennai on Saturday]. Since the budget session of Parliament was beginning on Monday, the Congress was particular that the talks should begin as early as possible, he said, adding that a formal announcement on the date would be made on Friday.

On the inclusion of the PMK, Mr. Thangkabalu said: “We want as many friendly parties [in our front] as possible to support and strengthen our alliance.”

Terming the PMK an old friend of the Congress, he said his party had no reservations over its presence now, even though the PMK went out of the alliance [in 2009].

Mr. Thangkabalu called on External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna in the morning and impressed upon him the need for immediate action in securing the release of Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by Sri Lankan authorities. Mr Krishna had taken up the matter with his Sri Lankan counterpart. Expressing the hope that the release would take place shortly, Mr. Thangkabalu told Mr. Krishna that a permanent solution should be found to the problem of continued harassment faced by fishermen.