Jayalalitha, Vijayakant reach poll deal

Under the agreement, DMDK gets 41 of the total seats being contested by the AIADMK alliance that also includes the Left parties.

The truce followed all-night talks led by DMDK’s presidium chairman and former minister ‘Panruti’ S Ramachandran. It not only saved the AIADMK-led alliance after one of its key allies, MDMK led by Vaiko had quit on Sunday, but also cleared the decks for AIADMK supremo J Jayalalitha to release a modified list of her party candidates for the 160 seats the AIADMK is contesting, against 188 it ran for in 2006.   At one stage the talks almost broke down as Vijayakant was piqued after Jayalalitha had ‘unilaterally’ announced the list of 160 constituencies and her party’s candidates list on March 16. This escalated the crisis as the Left parties and other smaller allies virtually revolted, urging Vijayakant to even lead a ‘Third Front’. But Jayalalitha swiftly responded to end the crisis, despite Vaiko’s exit.

While Vijayakant was expected to sign the seat-sharing deal formally with ‘Amma’ early on Monday, he got into a huddle again with DMDK’s district secretaries. This fuelled speculation that the actor was still not happy with the deal reached on constituencies, and set off fears that the DMDK might emulate MDMK. Vijayakant will contest from Rishivandiyam constitutency.

While Jayalalitha will contest from Srirangam constituency, she had to drop at least 15 seats in favour of her allies including the DMDK, the CPM and the CPI and choose other seats in their place. She also replaced some candidates in the final list.  Most former AIADMK ministers like O Panneerselvam, K A Sengottiayan, Pollachi Jayaraman and Nainar Nagendran have been retained.

A third-front that could have divided the anti-DMK votes in a big way has been averted, though the BJP with Janata Party support is contesting all the 234 Assembly seats in the state. With BJP’s presence limited, the party on Monday urged Vaiko to join hands with it.
Even DMK president M Karunanidhi made veiled overtures to Vaiko, when he exhorted all those ‘rejected’ by the AIADMK to strengthen the DMK-Congress-PMK alliance. But the MDMK chief maintained silence all through the day.

Even as DMK leader M K Stalin filed his nomination papers for the Kolathur seat, several film stars jumped into the poll campaign for the DMK.

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