CHENNAI: After discussions that lasted for over an hour, the seat-sharing talks between the DMK and Congress on Friday ahead of the coming Assembly polls remained inconclusive, with both sides maintaining that a decision on the number of seats the national party would contest would be taken in the next meeting.
“We have not firmed up the number of seats in today’s talks. We just raised the number of seats… next time we will be able to firm up the numbers,” senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told the media after emerging from the meeting with Karunanidhi at his Gopalapuram residence here on Friday.
“The basic purpose of our meeting today was to discuss the election strategy, how to go about the elections, who are the other parties, small or big, that are about to join the DMK-led front and groups which have already joined,” Azad said and added that the DMK leadership was expecting more smaller groups to join the Front.
Sources told Express that the Congress had sought similar number of seats (63) given to it in the 2011 Assembly elections. However, the DMK was willing to offer only 25 to 30, citing the vertical split led by G K Vasan to form Tamil Maanila Congress. When the Congress reminded the DMK’s earlier promise to allot more seats if the DMDK could not be roped in, the DMK said the party needed to allocate seats to more number of parties that were expected to join the front soon.
The Congress has sought at least 40 seats across the State, said sources, adding that a deal could be struck at about 30-33 seats.
While the DMK is under pressure to keep the Congress in its fold as it is the only major party in the alliance, the Congress would be in need of continuing the alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as it needs a friend in Tamil Nadu. The finalisation of seat-sharing is expected to take place keeping in mind this ground reality that both of them need each other in the coming years. Significantly, the DMK has rather generously allocated five seats each to IUML and MMK.
Later, Azad held detailed discussions with the eight-member seat-sharing committee of the State unit at TNCC headquarters, Satyamurthy Bhavan, before flying back to Delhi. The leader in charge of party affairs in Tamil Nadu, Mukul Wasnik and TNCC president E V K S Elangovan accompanied Azad during the talks with the DMK. On the DMK side, party treasurer MK Stalin, Durai Murugan and Kanimozhi were present.