On a day the BJP and AIADMK announced an alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu, the Congress and DMK more or less arrived at a seat-sharing arrangement and could announce a grand alliance as soon as Wednesday.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi met top leaders from Tamil Nadu, including state Congress president K S Alagiri and his predecessor S Thirunavukkarasar. Former Union minister P Chidambaram was part of the consultations. Senior DMK leader and Rajya Sabha member M Kanimozhi also met Rahul.
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Sources said the Congress is likely to get 10 seats, the same number of seats it had contested in 2004 Lok Sabha elections as part of the DMK-led alliance. In 2009, the Congress had contested 16 seats in alliance with the DMK, but many of the smaller parties were not part of the alliance then. In 2014, the Congress and DMK contested separately.
This time, the DMK-led alliance is expected to include seven other parties — the CPM, CPI, Vaiko’s MDMK, Muslim League, Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi, the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi and one Kongu party.
Congress sources said the DMK had initially offered it eight seats — seven in Tamil Nadu and the lone seat in Puducherry — while the Congress was demanding 11. Negotiations over the last three days resulted in the DMK conceding some ground. Sources said an agreement has more or less been reached on 10 seats for the Congress, either nine seats in Tamil Nadu plus one in Puducherry, or 10 seats in Tamil Nadu plus the lone seat in the Union territory.
“It is almost finalised. It can be one more or less. Doesn’t matter. We may announce either tomorrow or day after tomorrow in Chennai. Talks are almost over,” a senior leader said.
The talks got complicated after the DMK made it clear that it wanted to contest 25 seats. With the Congress asking for 10 seats and the alliance having seven more parties, an agreement had been elusive so far.
Sources said the CPI, CPI(M), VCK and MDMK have demanded two seats each. While the PMK’s decision to be part of the AIADMK-BJP alliance has come as a setback, sources said it had eased the roadblocks in the seat-sharing talks. “It is not about the number. Winning is the target… so many parties are coming together. We have to keep in mind the interests of every party,” a senior leader said.
A top leader said the parties have not yet identified the seats each party would contest. “We have prepared a wish list of the seats we would like to contest. We will discuss it with DMK later,” the leader said.