A clear picture of electoral alliances emerged in Tamil Nadu on Thursday, pointing to a multi-cornered contest.
While the last-ditch efforts by Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to bring the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam together failed, as DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin ‘politely’ rejected the move, the Bharatiya Janata Party was able to overcome its decade-long electoral isolation in the State by roping in the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam.
The BJP has already struck a deal with Vaiko’s MDMK and PMK.
The ruling AIADMK, after spurning the Left parties, is taking the elections on its strength alone.
The DMK front has Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, Indian Union Muslim League, Puthiya Tamizhagam and Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi, which was allotted Chidambaram (Reserved) constituency on Thursday night after several rounds of negotiations.
Thursday also saw the two Left parties — the CPI and the CPI (M) — jointly announcing their decision to contest together, putting an end to the speculation that they could switch over to the DMK camp.
“We could not make any progress in the seat-sharing talks because of the attitude of the AIADMK. Since the AIADMK has launched its campaign in all the 40 seats, we have decided to contest the polls together,” said a statement jointly issued by CPI (M) secretary G. Ramakrishnan and CPI secretary D. Pandian.
But the major breakthrough on Thursday happened when DMDK leader Vijayakant ended his silence and held parleys with the BJP.
The major political party that found itself isolated was Congress. Desperate for an alliance, the party with eight sitting MPs in Tamil Nadu made its moves through Mr. Chidambaram and he spoke to Mr. Stalin twice on Wednesday, arguing that a broad alliance would benefit both the parties. However, Mr. Stalin, now the key-player in the DMK, was not convinced. But throughout the conversation he was “gentle and polite while explaining the reasons behind his stand,” sources close to both sides told The Hindu.
Mr. Stalin’s argument was that the Congress in Tamil Nadu had gained a negative image, particularly on its stand on Sri Lankan Tamils issue and the release of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
He told Mr. Chidambaram that the negative image would have an impact on the DMK in the elections.
“Mr. Stalin also explained that the general council meeting had decided against an alliance with the Congress and the message has reached the party cadres at all levels. Convincing them once again on an alliance will not be easy,” a senior party leader said.
He, however, made one point clear: the DMK would never take a position in favour of the BJP in the post-electoral scenario.
While the DMK is ready to embrace the Communists and the CPI is also ready to reciprocate the gesture, the CPI (M) put its foot down and said it was against the idea.
In a few districts second line Left leaders opened channels with the former DMK ministers and district secretaries.
While answering a question whether he would invite the Left parties to the alliance, DMK president M. Karunanidhi said he was happy to welcome them.
“It is impossible to coexist with the DMK, not just because the party is embroiled in the 2G scam. It was also part of the Congress-led UPA, which pursued an anti-people neo-liberalisation policy. Even after quitting the UPA government, it continued to support many policies, including Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the multi-brand retail sector,” said a senior CPI (M) leader.
Meanwhile, the DMK has convened a meeting of district secretaries to discuss poll preparations on Friday.