A day after the CPI made an open appeal to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to support its candidate D. Raja in the Rajya Sabha polls, she announced that one of her party’s nominees, K. Thangamuthu, would withdraw his papers in favour of Mr Raja.

In a statement here on Monday, she said following a request from CPI general secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy, former general secretary A.B. Bardhan, and State secretary D. Pandian, the AIADMK parliamentary board decided to support Mr. Raja’s candidature.

A week ago, Ms. Jayalalithaa had expressed her inability to support Mr. Raja when the CPI leaders met her in Delhi and sought her support. On Monday, Mr Raja filed his nomination and called on her, along with his party leaders, including Mr. Pandian, senior leader R. Nallakannu and assistant secretary C. Mahendran.

The AIADMK has 151 MLAs in the Assembly. The CPI and CPI (M) together have 18 members, and the All India Forward Bloc one. These 170 votes are enough to ensure that the AIADMK’s four candidates and Mr. Raja get the required 34 votes each. Moreover, seven members of the DMDK have switched their loyalty to the Chief Minister, which means she will still be left with some votes to spare.

The focus has now shifted to the Congress, which has five members in the Assembly, the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK), Puthiya Tamizhagam (PT), both with two members each, and the three-member Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK). The votes of these parties can tilt the balance in favour of the sixth candidate.

DMK’s Kanimozhi and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) treasurer A.R. Elangovan are also in the fray and if neither of them withdraws, there will be polling on June 27. The real contest for the sixth seat will be between these two parties. The DMK has only 23 MLAs and the DMDK is effectively left with 22 members. If three parties – the Congress, the MMK and the PT – come forward to support the DMK, Ms. Kanimozhi, would get 32 seats.

Assuming that the Congress, which has five legislators, will vote for the DMDK candidate, his total votes would increase to 27. It may increase to 31 if the MMK and the PT agree to support the DMDK. However, the DMK high command, keen on boosting the prospects of Ms. Kanimozhi, continues to hold parleys with the Congress leadership to get its five votes.

“The Congress needs the support of parties like the DMK in Parliament to pass key bills, including the one on food security. Let us see what the Congress decides,” a senior DMK leader said. Efforts were also on to rope in the MMK and PT with the promise of Lok Sabha seats.

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