With the DMK in Tamil Nadu sealing a seat-sharing deal on Saturday night with the Congress for the April 6 election, negotiations began to reach an understanding between the principal parties in Puducherry on Sunday.
The initiation of talks also puts to rest speculation of the DMK wanting to break away from its ally for this election and go it alone. In fact, in January, the party executive committee meeting had even given a clarion call to its cadre to prepare to contest all the 30 seats.
Former Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, Member of Parliament V. Vaithilingam, former Minister M. Kandasamy and PCC chief A. V Subramanian met DMK conveners for Puducherry region R. Siva and S.P. Sivakumar at the PCC office. “As this was a preliminary meeting, the discussions were more of a broad nature, where both sides presented their views and suggestions,” Mr. V. Narayanasamy told reporters later.
The allocation of seats among the Congress, the DMK and other parties under the Secular Democratic Progressive Alliance will be finalised during subsequent negotiations.
“Only the first round of talks has taken place. The sharing of seats will evolve over ongoing talks,” Mr. Narayanasamy said.
In the 2016 election, the Congress contested 21 of the 30 constituencies while the DMK fielded its candidates in nine Assembly seats. The combine came to power, winning 18 seats (Congress-15, DMK-2 and an Independent).
The exit of several Congress leaders from the party ahead of the poll has opened up a handful of seats.
“Today's meeting was only a general consultation and we have given the Congress a wish list of seats to be contested. We wanted to contest more seats this time but a final call on the number of seats will be decided by our party president and the Congress high command,” said a DMK leader.
“We are sure of arriving at an amicable solution. There will not be any issues as DMK leaders have reiterated that the relationship with the Congress is ideological and is not purely based on numbers. The seat-sharing talks will be concluded in two to three days,” a senior Congress leader told The Hindu .
Mr. Narayanasamy said the negotiations between the two parties, which share the goal of defeating the communal forces, went smoothly. The election manifesto of the Congress would be prepared with a focus on Statehood and safeguarding the identity of Puducherry, he said.
The leadership had also started deliberations with the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Kathchi. All the three parties which are part of the Secular Democratic Progressive Alliance have sought a share of seats to contest the Assembly polls.