The DMK is looking to forge a strong alliance in Tamil Nadu with the Congress and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) already on board and seat-sharing talks underway with parties such as VCK, Vaiko’s MDMK, CPI(M) and CPI. The VCK, MDMK, CPI(M) and CPI played a key role in DMK’s defeat in 2016 Assembly polls by splitting the opposition votes against AIADMK with a third front.
While this has left the party’s main rivals — the AIADMK and TTV Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) — with hardly any powerful ally in the state, three more aspirants are eyeing space in the DMK’s electoral platform — Captain Vijayakanth’s DMDK, K Ramadoss’s PMK and Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM).
After a meeting with MNM leaders on Saturday, Haasan said his party will be part of an alliance that would contest in all 40 constituencies. Without revealing specifics, the actor-turned-politician said, “We will not join hands with any party who tried to change the DNA of Tamil Nadu… Today’s meeting has designated me to take a final decision on the poll alliance. We will take the right decision.”
Indicating that Haasan’s strategy is to strike a deal directly with Congress to enter the DMK alliance, a top leader in MNM said the fate of Haasan’s plans depend on his “ongoing talks with the Congress national leadership”. The leader said they hope to contest at least two seats in the DMK alliance if the plan works out. If the alliance plan fails, Dhinakaran’s AMMK that continues to fight against both the ruling AIADMK and BJP will be another option before the MNM.
“Precisely, there are three plans before us. If we contest alone in all 40 constituencies without any major partner, we hope that we will get 3-4 per cent votes. If we go with Dhinakaran, the vote share may increase to 5 per cent. But it is clear that we have to be in the DMK-Congress alliance to win at least one seat,” the leader said.
While senior Congress leaders in the state refused to comment on Haasan’s talks with their national leadership, a senior DMK leader who is coordinating talks with potential allies said an alliance with Haasan was not on the cards. While Congress is likely to get eight seats in the DMK alliance, the DMK leader said one of those seats may be shared by the Congress with Haasan.
“We expect a tough battle with BJP and win the Kanyakumari seat. Sivaganga, Cuddalore, Kancheepuram, Tirupur and Karur are among other seats where we we are confident of winning the election with powerful faces. We cannot talk about an alliance with Haasan right now,” said a senior Congress leader.
According to sources in the DMK, VCK, CPI and CPI(M) may be demanding two seats each but the DMK leadership is unlikely to share more than one seat each with them. “If Vaiko’s MDMK agrees to contest on the symbol of the rising sun (DMK party symbol) or Vaiko himself contests, we could give them one or even two seats. Vijayakanth’s DMDK has demanded three seats and they are ready to join us anytime. We have told them to wait until we settle the deal with others,” a DMK leader said.
M H Jawahirullah of Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) and IUML are also hoping for one seat each from the DMK alliance.
Ramadoss’s PMK remains clueless about joining the alliance as rival VCK is already on board.
The DMK leadership will have to struggle to retain the electoral trend in favour of party president Stalin. “… It is going to be a struggle to make parties like VCK happy as we gave them two seats in the 2014 election… Having Congress on board now, we couldn’t be generous with other parties now,” said a source close to Stalin.