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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tamil Nadu elections: Deadlock resolved, DMK gives 25 seats to Congress

A formal pact was signed by DMK chief M K Stalin and Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief K S Alagiri at the DMK's headquarters in Chennai, 'Anna Arivalayam', on Sunday.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: March 8, 2021 7:51:40 am
The DMK and Congress reach seat-sharing agreement (Twitter/@INCTamilNadu)

After a week-long deadlock in seat-sharing negotiations ahead of the elections, the DMK on Sunday allotted 25 Assembly seats and the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha constituency to the Congress.

DMK chief M K Stalin and Tamil Nadu Congress Committee chief K S Alagiri signed a formal pact at the DMK’s headquarters in Chennai.

Despite their past association, the two parties had failed to reach an agreement for long.

Giving the Congress’s below par performance in past elections, a section of the DMK, considered close to party chief M K Stalin, is said to have wanted to either keep the Congress out or give it a smaller share of seats. Sources said Congress president Sonia Gandhi spoke to Stalin on Saturday night, after which the deal was finally clinched.
In the 2016 Assembly polls, the Congress only won eight seats of the 41 allotted to it. The DMK, on the other hand, won 89 of the 178 it contested.

While the Congress had initially sought 34 seats, the DMK was ready to offer only 18. Later, the Congress’s demand came down to 30, but the DMK initially stuck to its stand before agreeing to settle for 25 seats, along with the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat, where a bypoll was necessitated after sitting Congress MP H Vasanthakumar died of Covid-19 last year.

The Congress, desperate as it is to clinch a deal with the DMK, climbed down despite a section of Central leaders asserting that anything below 30 was unacceptable, and had even signaled that an alliance with Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam can be explored. Their argument was that Rahul Gandhi had focused so much attention on Tamil Nadu, making multiple trips in the last two months, that anything below 30 would be a loss of face.

But the party had to concede as it is staring at a situation where regional parties have come to see it as some sort of baggage.

While in Tamil Nadu, the Congress had to give in to the DMK, in West Bengal it had to be content with 92 seats, the same number it had contested last time with the Left parties. The development comes months after the party’s Bihar fiasco, where it had bargained hard with the RJD and secured 70 seats in the Assembly elections but could win only 19, dragging down the alliance.

Of the 234 seats in the state, DMK has already allocated six seats each to Thol Thirumavalavan’s Dalit party VCK and CPI, parties that have two MPs each in the alliance. Vaiko’s MDMK was also allotted six seats, but the party’s candidates will contest on the DMK’s symbol, the rising sun.

While the Congress was given 25, talks with another ally, the CPM, are still in progress, as they are demanding more than what the CPI got in the alliance.

Tamil Nadu, which has 234 Assembly seats, goes to polls in one phase on April 6. The results will be declared on May 2.

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