Tamil Nadu polls: DMK takes one step forward, two back in seat sharing talks

So far, after four days of marathon talks, DMK has only been able to finalise seat-sharing agreements with three of its nine allies.

Published: 05th March 2021 03:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th March 2021 09:48 AM   |  A+A-

VCK president Thol Thirumavalavan and DMK president MK Stalin inked a poll pact with six seats at DMK headquarters. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: It was a game half-won for the DMK on Thursday, as it managed to convince one ally, while issues flared up with another.

The day began on a pleasant note at the DMK camp, with VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan sealing the deal with six seats.

Though the party was not entirely satisfied with the numbers allotted to it, the agreement to allow it contest on its own election symbol finalised the deal.

The DMK, however, was not as lucky with its other partner MDMK, which openly expressed disgruntlement with the way the talks were going.

This development has sparked tension in DMK circles as twice before, MDMK has ditched the DMK alliance on the eleventh hour due to disagreements over seat sharing.  

Till 8 pm on Thursday, according to sources, MDMK had not decided on the offer made by DMK.

As the MDMK high-level committee meeting is scheduled to be held on Saturday evening, an announcement is likely before that.

So far, after four days of marathon talks, DMK has only been able to finalise seat-sharing agreements with three of its nine allies.

DMK is using the pressure applied by Congress to convince its smaller allies to be happy with fewer seats, said sources.

“They are being told that if more seats are allocated to them, then DMK will be forced to cede further more to Congress,” said a source.

“While VCK, MDMK, and Left party aspirants are seen as DMK-leaning, Congress counterparts, from the DMK point of view, seem to be weak choices.”

The DMK leaders said that going by the national political scenario it is Congress cadre who are weak in facing an ideological war with the BJP as it lost two State governments Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry following the defection of its own MLAs due intra-party politics.

DMK would give them more, but...

Though VCK has reached an agreement with DMK, it has clearly expressed its disappointment.

“Though the party is not satisfied with the number of seats allotted to it, we have decided to accept the deal as the larger intention is to drive ‘Sanathana forces’ out of Tamil Nadu and to consolidate secular votes,” Thirumavalavan said. Subsequently, a delegation of CPI, led by MP Subbarayan and state secretary R Mutharasan met the DMK seat-sharing panel.

“Our talks went smoothly. The poll pact will be inked on Friday after getting consent from our state committee,” said Mutharasan.

DMK’s another ally Congress, with which also the seat sharing talks are dragging, convened a consultative meeting with its State and district functionaries on Thursday evening to discuss the deadlock.

No announcement was made till 8 pm. The CPM has also convened an urgent state executive committee meeting on Saturday under the leadership of the party’s general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami arrives at party headquarters for
interviewing party ticket aspirants, in Chennai on Thursday

Meanwhile, sources told Express that DMK was highlighting the pressure it was facing from Congress as a reason to allot fewer seats to other allies.

The party is said to be engaging in back-channel negotiations to finalise pacts with other allies. Sources from the alliance parties said that after official talks, the DMK’s seat-sharing panel members are speaking to their influential contacts in alliance parties to persuade them to accept fewer seats.

The main argument of the DMK leaders, according to sources, is the need to contain the Congress’ demands.

One such alliance party leader said that a member of the DMK panel made it clear that the party had no hesitation in allocating more seats to the MDMK, VCK or Left parties.

“They believe MDMK cadre are people with a DMK-leaning and offering them seats is akin to giving seats of former DMK members. Similarly, the VCK and Left parties have a strong anti-BJP mindset and so there is no hesitation in offering them more seats,” the leader said quoting his DMK counterpart’s statement.

“However, the DMK leaders are arguing that going by the national scenario it is Congress cadres who are weak in facing an ideological war with BJP,” the alliance party leader said.

“The Congress lost two States – Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry –following the defection of its own MLAs due intra-party politics. Even the JDU government in Karnataka fell following resignation of Congress MLAs. But, if the DMK offers more seats to MDMK, VCK and Left parties, the Congress will ask for more seats,” the leader said.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that DMK leaders are trying to persuade the Congress to lower its demand by citing the alliance’s chance of victory.

According to a State-level Congress functionary, a second-rung DMK leader argued that the AIADMK had received only 8,250 applications for tickets while despite being in the Opposition the DMK had received nearly 8,000 applications.

“If the ruling party cadre are confident of victory, the number of applications would be closer to 17,000 as received during 2016 polls. Hence, DMK-led alliance is guaranteed to win and the Congress should accept the seats offered. This is what the DMK leader said,” the Congress functionary recalled.

The DMK is also citing a TV channel survey projecting 47% winnability for the DMK-alliance. The Congress leader said although the DMK’s offer was unacceptable, party leaders were unwilling to consider other options.

‘DMK-CPI pact to be inked today’

CHENNAI: A delegation of the Communist Party of India, led by MP Subbarayan and State secretary R Mutharasan, met the DMK seat-sharing panel on Thursday.

“Our talks went smoothly. The poll pact will be inked on Friday after getting consent from our State committee,” said Mutharasan.


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