TN polls: Cong, DMK to discuss seat-sharing on Thursday

Congress, DMK leaders to discuss seat-sharing for Tamil Nadu Assembly polls on Thursday

Congress contested 41 assembly seats as part of the DMK alliance in the 2016 Assembly elections

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) President and Leader of Opposition MK Stalin. Credit: PTI photo.

Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the leader of the Opposition-led alliance in Tamil Nadu, will formally kick-off negotiations on seat-sharing for the ensuing assembly polls on February 25.

Former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala, and AICC in-charge of Tamil Nadu Dinesh Gundu Rao will hold talks with a DMK team led by its General Secretary Durai Murugan.

Though informal talks between Congress leaders close to Rahul Gandhi and the DMK leadership have been on for the past few weeks, this is the first time that leaders from both parties will sit across the table and engage in discussions on the number of seats that the national party would contest in the April-May assembly elections.

“We are going to meet the DMK leaders on Thursday in Chennai. We will sit and discuss the modalities for seat sharing. We will convey what is on our mind. And they will say what is their plan. This is the first round, and we may have to meet a couple of time to arrive at a decision,” Rao told Deccan Herald. Though DMK President M K Stalin is unlikely to be present at the meeting, the Congress delegation will make a “courtesy call” on him, sources said.

Congress contested 41 assembly seats as part of the DMK alliance in the 2016 Assembly elections, and sources in both parties confide in private that there is no chance of the national party getting the same number this election. Of the 41 seats the party contested in 2016, Congress won just 8.

“It is not because we do not want to give Congress more seats, but we are under pressure from our cadre to contest maximum number seats this election. Also, the number of alliance partners this election are more than 2016,” a DMK leader said.

Apart from the Congress, the DMK alliance consists of Left parties, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), and a few other parties.

A Congress leader told DH on the condition of anonymity that the party might not accept anything less than 30 seats. “We understand the DMK's compulsion and position. But the DMK should also realise that this is an alliance that has been strong for several years. There should be some give and take. If we take less than 30 seats, it would be seen as a loss of face for us,” he said.

Congress and DMK have been in an alliance since 2004 except from 2013 to 2016 when the two parties parted away and contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls separately. Both Congress and DMK drew blank in the election.

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