Cong-DMK rift blows over

Regional party concedes Congress demand for 63 Assembly seats in TN

Cong-DMK rift blows over

The DMK, which was earlier reluctant to spare more than 60 seats for the Congress, agreed to give the national party one more from its kitty. The DMK’s two other partners — Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) — spared one seat each for the Congress.

The Congress clearly gained from the negotiations with the DMK as it will contest 15 seats more than what it had during the last elections in 2006.

“We will work together. I am sure we will be able to form the government again in Tamil Nadu,” said Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. He was talking to journalists just before entering Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s residence at 10 Janpath along with
DMK leaders and Union ministers Dayanidhi Maran and M K Alagiri.

Azad, a member of the Congress Working Committee, looks after the party’s affairs in Tamil Nadu. He and Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel negotiated with Maran, Alagiri and other leaders of the DMK over the past four days, after the regional party had threatened to pull out of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre.

“This is a winning alliance,” said Alagiri before meeting Gandhi to formally inform her about the end of the impasse. DMK chief M Karunanidhi in Chennai affirmed that the party will go from strength to strength.

The amicable seat-sharing agreement reached with the Congress demonstrates the DMK’s “sagacity and dependability” as an alliance partner, he added.  The Congress had contested 48 seats during the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections in 2006 and won 34.  The DMK had won 96 of the 132 seats it had contested five years ago.

The DMK-Congress relations hit a rough patch when the national party told its regional ally that it wanted to contest at least 70 seats in the State. The DMK was initially willing to spare only 55 seats for the Congress. It later offered the national party 56. The Congress, however, made it very clear that it would not settle for anything less than 63.

The DMK finally blinked during a meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the Parliament House. Maran, Alagiri, Azad and Patel attended the meeting. The DMK’s final offer was made possible after the PMK led by S Ramadoss and the IUML headed by Prof K M Khader Mohideen agreed to part with one seat each from their allocated seats.

The DMK will now contest 121 seats after allocating 63 for the Congress, 30 for the PMK, 10 for Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi, seven for Kongunaadu Munnetra Kazhagam, two for the IUML and one for Muvender Munnetra Kazhagam.

On Monday, the DMK ministers in the Union government came to New Delhi with their resignation letters. They did not immediately resign as Mukherjee got in touch with Karunanidhi over the phone. Mukherjee also had a meeting with Maran and Alagiri.

Mukherjee also had consultations with Gandhi, Azad, Patel and Home Minister P Chidambaram, who was in charge of the Congress’s seat-sharing talks with the DMK, before calling up Karunanidhi again on Monday to seek more time.

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