After rounds of tough bargaining for seat-sharing, the DMK has provided only 25 seats to the Congress, much lower than 41 it contested in the 2016 Assembly elections.
A senior leader of the DMK who does not want to be named told IANS, “Congress does not have any grassroots strength in most of the constituencies and even the 25 we have given is the DMK’s benevolence”. He added, “Another major factor which led to the reduction in the number of seats to the Congress party is the possibility of the Congressmen switching sides in a situation of a close finish which we have seen in neighbouring Puducherry and so we don’t want that to happen here”.
DMK supremo, M.K. Stalin, according to party office bearers was reluctant to provide more than 18 seats to the Congress party and had to finally come in line following intervention from both Rahul Gandhi and Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi.
However, K.S. Alagiri, Tamil Nadu State Congress president while speaking to IANS said, “These are all media speculations. Of course the negotiations was not pleasant as it is in almost all the seat negotiations but DMK has provided a decent number of seats to the Congress and we are happy.”
While Alagiri has put up a brave face, sources in the Congress told IANS that in the party core committee meeting, the TNCC president broke down narrating the bitter experience the Congress leaders had at the DMK headquarters, “Anna Aravilayam”. K.S. Alagiri and M.K. Stalin had formally signed the seat-sharing agreement in the presence of Congress general secretary in-charge of Tamil Nadu, Dinesh Gundurao, Congress legislative party leader K.R. Ramaswamy and DMK leader and M.K. Stalin’s sister Kanimozhi.
Dinesh Gundu Rao while speaking to IANS said, “Congress and DMK have been traditional allies and there is no bad blood between us. We don’t have any issues and will fight for the defeat of the AIADMK-BJP combine. We are wary of the nefarious designs of the BJP and we are on guard.”
In a related development, the DMK has not yet finalised its seat-sharing with the CPI-M. The Left party had come out of the DMK headquarters boycotting the discussions on Saturday following the DMK not giving more than 4 seats while the CPI-M has been demanding 8 seats. It is learnt that CPI-M will not settle for anything less than 6 seats but DMK is adamant that it contests maximum number of seats for the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly and, hence has been conducting tough bargains with the other coalition partners.