Tamil Nadu

Local bodies: Congress-DMK talks break down


Fissures surface ahead of indirect elections to posts

Fissures in the DMK-Congress alliance, brewing for some time, came out in the open on Friday ahead of the indirect elections to key posts in the rural local bodies with the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee accusing the DMK of not adhering to the coalition dharma and not allotting enough posts of chairman to panchayat unions.

Talks between the two parties, which have been taking place for about a week, broke down on Friday with the DMK refusing to concede to the Congress’ demands.

Sources said the Congress had sought at least one district chairman post, two district vice-chairman posts and 10 panchayat union chairman posts. But the DMK was willing to allot just two posts of chairman of panchayat unions.

A joint statement in the evening by TNCC president K.S. Alagiri and Congress floor leader K.R. Ramasamy said it was painful that the DMK was not adhering to the coalition dharma.

The two leaders along with former TNCC president K.V. Thangkabalu were negotiating with the DMK president M.K. Stalin and senior leaders T.R. Baalu and R.S. Bharathi for a week on the issue. As a follow-up, A. Gopanna, chairman of the Congress media cell, held four rounds of talks with the DMK but it fell through, sources said. “It was decided before the local body polls that seats where the parties will contest will be decided by the district leaders of both the parties. But there was no cooperation from the DMK,” the statement said.

“Even in seats where the DMK high command had advised to be given to us, we are being denied an opportunity,” the statement said.

Of the 303 panchayat union chairman posts, only two are being offered to the Congress.

The Congress ended up winning only around 133 panchayat union seats and its strike rate was about 25%. It won 15 seats for the post of district panchayats ward members. In village pachayats too, it clocked a similar strike rate. Comparatively, the BJP, which is facing a backlash in the State, managed to win about 85 panchayat union seats.

Sources in the TNCC told The Hindu that the party was even denied seats in Mr. Alagiri's home district of Cuddalore.

Chidambaram hopeful

Veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram when asked about the development, said, “I don’t know what happened. What I got to know is that Congress couldn’t get enough seats in the coalition. It is not late yet. The indirect elections are only tomorrow (Saturday). From now till morning, they have time and they should call Mr. Alagiri and hold discussions and sort out the issue,” Mr. Chidambaram added.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 7:15:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/local-bodies-congress-dmk-talks-break-down/article30538487.ece

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